Link between mental health and rheumatoid arthritis remains unclear

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rheumatoid arthritis, mental health, TNF-drugs, arthritis support, arthritis digest magazineTreating a person’s rheumatoid arthritis does not necessarily improve the mental health of people with issues such as anxiety and depression, says a review of the evidence published in Arthritis and Rheumatology. Experts are now calling for mental health conditions to be considered alongside arthritis and treated at the same time.

About one in three people with rheumatoid arthritis have mental health issues, compared to one in four people in the general population.

Anti-TNF drugs have revolutionised the way that rheumatoid arthritis is treated and more people than ever are achieving remission. Lots of research has looked at how these drugs improve physical health and reduce joint damage but little is known about their impact on people’s quality of life.

So a team of experts has now looked at 50 relevant studies involving over 23,000 people. The results suggest that treating a person’s arthritis may not always improve their mental health. Dr Sam Norton, researcher on the study comments:

“Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis are highly effective at controlling disease activity and halting joint damage. However, many people continue to experience issues with their mental health. This research shows it is important for trials to consider the impact of treatments on mental health, and more broadly the need for rheumatology services to identify and support those people who might need additional support with their mental health.”

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