Life Wellbeing Arthritis takes toll on mental health, study finds

Arthritis takes toll on mental health, study finds

arthritis depression anxiety
People with arthritis are at increased risk of anxiety and depression, a study has found. Photo: Getty
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People with arthritis are significantly more likely to suffer depression or anxiety and have panic attacks, according to new research.

The latest analysis of the Medibank Better Health Index – an annual survey of more than 50,000 Australians – shows 22.3 per cent of people with arthritis had diagnosed depression, compared with 16.3 per cent of the general population.

The prevalence of diagnosed anxiety was also higher among those with arthritis, at 21.7 per cent, compared with 19.2 per cent.

People with rheumatoid arthritis were the most likely to have depression, and those with osteoarthritis were most likely to experience anxiety.

Panic attacks affected 7.3 per cent of of people with arthritis, compared with 5.8 per cent of the general population, while sufferers were twice as likely to struggle with sleeping issues.

Medibank chief medical officer Dr Linda Swan said arthritis was a physical disease, but greater awareness was needed about its impact on mental health.

“These findings confirm how essential it is that people with arthritis take measures to not only manage the physical symptoms of the condition, but also their mental health as well, and seek support from their arthritis specialist, GP or other health professional if required,” Dr Swan said.

Many people with arthritis lived with chronic pain and a loss of mobility, while it also affected their social lives, she said.