Researchers have found that 33 percent of Americans over age 45 who have arthritis suffer from anxiety or depression, with anxiety more prevalent.

In previous, unrelated research, massage therapy was shown to relieve the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis, and to reduce both anxiety and depression.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that anxiety is nearly twice as common as depression among people with arthritis, despite more clinical focus on the latter mental health condition, according to a press release from Wiley-Blackwell, which published the current research.

“In the U.S. 27 million individuals, 25 years of age and older, have doctor diagnosed osteoarthritis (OA) and 1.3 adults have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) according to prevalence data from the American College of Rheumatology,” the press release noted. “The CDC estimates that all forms of arthritis affect 50 million Americans and is the leading cause of disability nationwide.”

Previous studies have reported depression is common among those with chronic illnesses such as arthritis, the press release noted, “However, experts suggest that anxiety is often under-recognized and under-treated, and until recently was overlooked as a potential risk factor for depression.”

Among the study results:

• 33 percent of participants reported experiencing anxiety or depression, or both conditions

• 31 percent of participants reported anxiety

• 18 percent of participants reported depression

• 84 percent of participants with depression also reported anxiety

“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 Dr. Murphy, in the press 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.”

The findings appear in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology.

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