Research has long shown that depression is often associated with other health conditions, such as heart disease and cancer. It’s also been linked to a number of diseases that cause chronic pain, including rheumatologic ones.

According to a new study, people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) may be at especially high risk for severe depression.

The study, presented at the 2018 American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ACR/ARHP) Annual Meeting in Chicago, relied on data from a community-based rheumatology clinic. The researchers analyzed information on 146 patients who had PsA and 366 who had rheumatoid arthritis (RA), all of whom had experienced some level of depression.

Study authors, led by Surjeet Dheer at Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Philadelphia, examined data from patient visits at the clinic. The data included information about each subject’s rheumatologic and depression symptoms. Clinicians had rated each patient’s depression at a given visit on a scale that indicated how mild or severe the depression was.

Although depression was prevalent in both groups, “patients with PsA were more likely to report higher levels of depression than those with RA,” say the authors. That seemed to hold true regardless of how mild or severe a patient’s physical (PsA or RA) symptoms were at the time.

The authors point out that “causality is yet to be determined,” so it’s not clear whether pain and mobility issues related to PsA and RA are what’s causing the depression or vice versa, or if other factors are at play.

But since depression is so common in people with rheumatologic conditions, it’s wise for both doctors and patients to be on high alert so that both physical and mental health issues can be treated promptly and properly before they worsen.

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Get Involved with Patient-Centered Arthritis Research

If you are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or another musculoskeletal health condition, you can track depression symptoms by joining CreakyJoints’ patient research registry, ArthritisPower. ArthritisPower is the first ever patient-led, patient-centered research registry for joint, bone and inflammatory skin conditions. You can use ArthritisPower to track your disease symptoms, share patterns with your doctor, and participate in voluntary research studies. Learn more here.