Many With Arthritis Experience Anxiety and Depression

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Aug 23, 2012

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Mind-body movement professionals may want to suggest mindful exercise for their clients with arthritis, since research is showing that mind-body practices can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. A study published in the journal of the American College of Rheumatology, Arthritis Care & Research (2012; doi:10.1002/acr.21685), noted that one-third of U.S. adults aged 45 and older who have arthritis also experience anxiety or depression. In this population, anxiety is almost twice as common as depression. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 50 million Americans have a form of arthritis and that it is the leading cause of disability.

Symptoms of anxiety may include an exaggerated sense of worry and tension, even though there is little to provoke it, or an intense, irrational fear of something that poses little to no danger. Symptoms of depression may involve irritability, sadness, withdrawal, lack of pleasure in activities and/or suicidal thoughts. Anxiety and depression often appear together, but anxiety can also be a risk factor for depression. People with arthritis are more likely to suffer from anxiety than those without arthritis. Yet, the authors of this study noted that only 50% of survey respondents with anxiety and/or depression had sought help for their condition, indicating an unmet need for treatment.

Lead study author Louise B. Murphy, PhD, from the CDC in Atlanta, said, “Given [the] high prevalence and the effective treatment options that are available, we suggest that all people with arthritis be screened for anxiety and depression. 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.”

A study abstract is available at

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at