Over half (63%) of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) also suffer from psychiatric disorders, with the majority of these (87%) occurring in the depressive spectrum, according to the results of a new study presented today at EULAR 2009, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Copenhagen, Denmark. Interestingly, over half (52%) of the patients studied indicated that they had experienced stress events before the onset of their RA.
The study also revealed a number of other interesting findings about the emotional burden of RA:
* Cognitive dysfunction was diagnosed in 23% of patients, with 16% of this attributed to depression
* A third (33%) suffered from sleep disorders
* Those with depression also exhibited more severe RA (measured by X-ray), greater functional insufficiency and pain, as well as having received less aggressive treatment than patients without depression. (No significant differences in age, duration of illness, gender or DAS28* scores were noted between the two groups)
* Significantly, cognitive impairments were found more often (p=0.02) in patients older than 50 years (39% vs. 9%)
* The age of the first prednisone intake was significantly higher (p<0.05) in patients with depression compared to those without (48 vs. 30 years)
Dr Tatiana Lisitsyna from the State Institute of Rheumatology RAMS, Russian Federation, who conducted the study, said: "Psychiatric disorders are a very common comorbidity for people with RA, and they tend to be stress-related and associated with disease activity and chronic pain. Evaluating and addressing the mental health of those with RA should be a regular feature of rheumatology practice to improve quality of life and reduce the potentially distressing psychological burden of RA."
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