News from the FDA/CDC

Anxiety and depression widespread among arthritis patients



Adults with arthritis are almost twice as likely to have symptoms of anxiety than depression, but the depressed patients are more likely to receive treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Treatment of arthritis patients' depression and anxiety symptoms

During 2015-2017, the prevalence of anxiety symptoms was 22.5% in adults with arthritis, compared with 12.1% for depression symptoms. Treatment of those symptoms, however, was another story: 57.7% of arthritis patients with depression symptoms were taking medications, versus 44.3% of those with anxiety symptoms, and 42.8% of those with symptoms of depression reported seeing a mental health professional the past 12 months, compared with 34.3% of adults with anxiety, Dana Guglielmo, MPH, of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Atlanta, and her associates reported in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Prevalences of anxiety and depression symptoms varied considerably by sociodemographic characteristic during 2015-2017. Anxiety and depression were both more common in those aged 18-44 years (28.3% and 13.7%, respectively) than in those aged over 65 (9.7% and 6.2%), and women with arthritis were more likely than were men to experience symptoms of anxiety (26.9% vs. 16%) and depression (14% vs. 9.2%), the investigators said, based on data from the National Health Interview Survey.

Among racial/ethnic groups, the prevalence of anxiety was highest for whites (23.9%) and lowest for Asians (10.6%), who also had lowest depression symptom prevalence at 3.3%, with American Indians/Alaska Natives highest at 15.4%. Adults categorized as other/multiple race, however, were highest in both cases at 32.3% for anxiety and 17.4% for depression, Ms. Guglielmo and her associates said.

The overall prevalence of anxiety and depression symptoms in patients with arthritis was much higher than in those without arthritis – 10.7% for anxiety and 4.7% for depression – which “suggests that all adults with arthritis would benefit from mental health screening,” they noted.

“Health care providers can help their arthritis patients by screening and considering treating or referring adults with symptoms to mental health professionals or self-management education programs, and encouraging physical activity, which is an effective nonpharmacologic strategy that can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve arthritis symptoms, and promote better quality of life,” the investigators wrote.

SOURCE: Guglielmo D et al. MMWR. 2018 Oct 5;67(39):1081-7.

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