By Natasha Persaud

As many as one-third of Americans with arthritis experience anxiety or depression, suggests a new study. And these symptoms of mental distress may be making their joint pain worse and contributing to disability.

Arthritis - Masterfile

While many health care professionals have focused on depression, a study of adults over age 45 showed that anxiety is more prevalent at 31 percent versus 18 percent. Most participants with depression also have symptoms of anxiety.

Help is Available—If You Ask for It

In the study, published in Arthritis Care & Research, half of respondents failed to seek mental health treatment.

"Given their high prevalence and the effective treatment options that are available, we suggest that all people with arthritis be screened for anxiety and depression," said Louise P. Murphy, Ph.D., lead researcher, according to a news release. "With so many arthritis patients not seeking mental health treatment, health care providers are missing an intervention opportunity that could improve the quality of life for those with arthritis."

People with arthritis or rheumatic disease (e.g., osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, gout or lupus) shouldn’t hesitate to reach out for help either. Specific medical treatments are available. In addition, cognitive behavioral therapy can improve both depression and anxiety. Talk to your doctor.

Arthritis self-management programs and exercises also can help a person cope better with joint pain. Contact organizations such as The Arthritis Foundation to learn about programs. Your quality of life matters.


Murphy, L. et al. “Anxiety is more common than depression among U.S. adults with arthritis.” Arthritis Care & Research. Published Online: April 30, 2012 (DOI: 10.1002/acr.21685).

News release

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 25 Jun 2012

Last Modified: 09 Oct 2014