An estimated 16.1 million U.S. adults — more than 6.5 percent of adults 18 and older — experienced at least a single, major depressive episode in 2015, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Depression, which is much deeper an issue than “just a bout of the blues,” isn’t something you can just snap out of, adds the Mayo Clinic, and, research shows, it can plague osteoarthritis patients in a particularly devastating way.

Osteoarthritis patients, compared to the general public, experience depressive symptoms at a rate of 20 percent, writes journalist Carina Stanton in the newsmagazine The Rheumatologist. Although disturbingly common among OA patients, depression and its association with osteoarthritis is little understood, says Alan Rathbun, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, in an interview with Stanton.

[Read about managing feelings of depression.]

“Understanding is still very limited [about] how these conditions interact with each other in the real-world clinical setting,” he says, noting “a lack of effective depression prevention and treatment strategies routinely implemented by generalist and specialist practitioners who see OA patients.”

And for Rathbun, this research hits close to home. “Since childhood, he has suffered from chronic perseverative stuttering,” Stanton writes, quoting, “‘Stress and anxiety about social and speaking situations cause me to experience extended blocks and preservations in my speech patterns,’ he acknowledges.”

[Learn about how depression can happen to anyone.]

Hard work has paid off for Rathbun, and he has found ways to succeed where he struggled previously. “There is much more to understand about the complexities that exist between the intersection of physical and mental health, particularly as it relates to depression and its effects and interactions with musculoskeletal disorders,” he says.

To read the article in The Rheumatologist, click here.