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16-08-2017 | Depression | Practical approach | Article

Identification and Treatment Optimization of Comorbid Depression in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatology and Therapy

Authors: Mellissa H. Withers, Louella T. Gonzalez, George A. Karpouzas

Publisher: Springer Healthcare


Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) suffer from high rates of depression but depression often remains undiagnosed and untreated among RA patients. Because of its high prevalence and its profound impact on functional disability and health-related quality of life, prompt recognition and management of comorbid depression is urgently needed in patients with RA. Rheumatologists face the challenge of addressing depression in their clinical interactions with patients. The purpose of this paper is to present the prevalence of comorbid depression in RA, to delineate the consequences of depression among RA patients, to discuss the barriers to the identification of depression among RA patients, and to outline a set of recommendations to identify and treat comorbid depression that could be implemented within the rheumatology clinic setting. A comprehensive approach to the management of both physical and mental health needs of RA patients can aid in improving patient overall quality of life. New clinical protocols should be developed to include routine depression screening as part of the rheumatology visit. Patient education to address misconceptions, knowledge gaps, and destigmatize depression is also recommended. More counseling resources, including emotional support groups, are necessary to provide treatment for those suffering from depression. Such interventions could help mitigate disability, improve quality of life, patient function, and overall satisfaction.

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