One major risk factor for depression is chronic illness, especially illnesses that involve pain. Studies have found that depression is common among people who suffer from arthritis, both rheumatoid arthritis and age-related osteoarthritis. The connection between these conditions is not yet clear, and is likely complex. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects people of all ages. It is characterized by pain and swelling in the joints as well as fever, fatigue, and weight loss. It can also affect other organs, including the eyes, lungs, heart, skin, and blood vessels. It has been well established that rheumatoid arthritis and depression often occur together, but it’s unclear how they are related. It’s possible that the pain of rheumatoid arthritis leads to anxiety and depression. The prospect of living the rest of your life with debilitating pain is discouraging. Patients often feel helpless. The condition also impairs mobility and inactivity has been shown to lead to depressed mood. Another possibility is that rheumatoid arthritis causes the depression directly. Recent research has found mounting evidence that inflammation is linked to depression. In fact, many symptoms of infection, such as fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, and social isolation are also symptoms of depression. It’s possible that the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis is also responsible for depression. Recent studies have also found a large overlap between age-related osteoarthritis and depression. Some of the factors relating the two conditions may be similar to rheumatoid arthritis. People will osteoarthritis may find their mobility and autonomy limited, leading to less activity and more depression. They may become more isolated. The frequent pain may cause anxiety and depression. There may be overlap from other factors too. Older people often have an increased risk of depression for a number of reasons, including death of a partner, chronic illness, and major life changes such as retirement. The problems caused by osteoarthritis may be an aggravating factor. Depression is undertreated in general, and it also appears to be undertreated in arthritis patients. It’s important for healthcare professionals, patients, and family members to recognize the possibility of depression that comes with any chronic condition such as arthritis. If someone does show signs of depression, treatment for that depression should be integrated into treatment for the condition. Not only does it improve quality of life in general, it will also alleviate the pain, as depression tends to make physical pain even worse.
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