Anxiety is under-diagnosed in individuals with arthritis, report says

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Older adults suffering from arthritis should be screened for anxiety, a new study recommends.

Anxiety in arthritis patients — including those with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis — often is under-treated and undiagnosed, according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In analyzing CDC records of 1,793 individuals with diagnosed arthritic or rheumatic conditions, investigators found that one third of U.S. adults with arthritis suffer from anxiety or depression. Additionally, anxiety is twice as common as depression, according to the report.

Researchers say that until recently, clinicians who were more intent on treating a patient's depression overlooked anxiety. Both depression and arthritis are common conditions for nursing home residents.

"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," lead researcher Louise Murphy, Ph.D., said. "With so many arthritis patients not seeking mental health treatment, healthcare providers are missing an intervention opportunity that could improve the quality of life for those with arthritis."

The findings were published Monday in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

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