In a population study of 53,240 rheumatoid arthritis patients and 13,964 ankylosing spondylitis patients, researchers found that RA and AS patients were significantly likelier to try to harm themselves than are the general population. And those with ankylosing spondylitis, a disease which causes spine vertebrae to fuse, were twice as likely to attempt self-harm, according to research presented June 14 in Amsterdam at the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology.

“Our study is one of the first to document the risk of serious mental health outcomes
following a rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis and highlights the need for routine evaluation of self-harm behaviour as part of the management of patients,” said study author Nigil Haroon, of University of Toronto, in a EULAR news release.

The most common ways patients tried to harm themselves were via poison (64 percent of AS patients attempts, and 81 percent of those with RA) and self-mutilation (36 percent of those with AS, and 18 percent with RA), according to the release. The study excluded those with prior mental illness histories, as well as those who had previously tried to hurt themselves.

“Although a higher prevalence of psychiatric comorbidities, including depressive disorder, has been proven in patients with AS, until now there is limited data on the risk of serious mental health outcomes following diagnosis,” per the announcement.

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