Man walking on a boardwalk in the fogAxial spondyloarthritis (AxSpA) patients  — particularly if diagnosed later in life, or years after the onset of the disease — were at higher depression risk, an Irish study found.

Of 564 people in the Ankylosing Spondylitis Registry of Ireland (ASRI) — 78.2 percent of whom are male — almost 12 percent reported depression. Those who were diagnosed seven or more years after the disease had developed were twice as likely to experience depression, and those reporting depression had diminished quality of life, per research presented at the British Society for Rheumatology’s annual meeting.

On average, the people in the registry (which began in 2013) had a disease duration of 20.8 years, and the average amount of time that passed between disease onset and diagnosis was 8.6 years. The researchers found no notable difference between men and women when it came to depression prevalence, although smoking and presence of peripheral arthritis were factors. Some of the data follows:

  1. Where 9 percent of non-smokers experienced depression, 16.6 percent of current smokers were depressed, as were 11.5 percent of ex-smokers. (About 60 percent were current or former smokers, MedPage notes.)
  2. Inflammatory bowel disease (13.5 percent), peripheral arthritis (15.9 percent), and psoriasis (13.7 percent) were also associated with higher rates of depression.
  3. Patients with depression had higher Ankylosing Spondylitis Quality of Life scores, on average.
  4. “Interestingly,” the researchers note, “there is no association between depression and BASDAI (Bath AS Disease Activity Index), BASMI (Bath AS Metrology Index) or BASFI (Bath AS Functional Index).”

“A delayed diagnosis of axSpA, peripheral arthritis and smoking predict depression, as does a long duration of disease,” they add. “AxSpA patients with depression have worse quality of life outcomes. Patients with these characteristics should be actively screened for depression to improve management.”

Extensive prior research, including this 2016 study, has found correlations between axial spondyloarthritis and depression. To read about managing feelings of depression, click here.