Report: Anxiety More Common than Depression in Arthritis Patients, But Less Likely to be Treated

Adults with arthritis are more likely to have anxiety than depression, but depression is more likely to be treated, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Of adults aged ≥ 18 years who have arthritis, anxiety was reported in 22.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 20.8–24.3) and depression in 12.1% (CI = 10.8–13.4)—compared to 10.7% (CI = 10.2–11.2) and 4.7% (CI = 4.4–5.0), respectively, among adults without arthritis. 

More adults with arthritis take medications to treat symptoms of depression than anxiety (57.7% [CI = 52.4–62.9] vs 44.3% [CI = 40.4–48.3], respectively). Patients with depressive symptoms were also more likely to report having spoken with a mental health professional in the past year than those with anxiety (42.8% [CI = 37.7–48.1] vs 34.3% [CI = 30.3–38.1], respectively). 

Of patients with arthritis and chronic pain, 31.2% reported symptoms of anxiety, and 18.7% said they had depressive symptoms. Symptom prevalence was higher among those with co-occurring chronic conditions, psychological distress, and poor self-rated health. Cigarette smokers were more likely to report symptoms than those who had never smoked. Self-reported physical activity was associated with a decrease in symptom prevalence. Adults aged between 18 and 64 years were more likely to report symptoms than adults aged ≥ 65 years. 

The findings came from a CDC analysis of 2015–2017 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data and were reported in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 

The report concluded, “Health care providers can help their arthritis patients by screening and considering treating or referring adults with symptoms to mental health professionals or self-management education programs, and encouraging physical activity, which is an effective nonpharmacologic strategy that can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve arthritis symptoms, and promote better quality of life.” 

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Source: CDC