High Prevalence of Mental Health Issues Discovered in Patients with Autoimmune Disorders

June 17, 2024

Research Team Finds that Depression, Anxiety, and Cognitive Dysfunction Are Common Among Those with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis

A new study by researchers from the University of Cambridge and King’s College London found that a majority of patients with autoimmune conditions, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, experience a wide range of mental health and neurological symptoms. Yet, they are rarely asked about these issues by clinicians. The study, which surveyed 1,853 patients and 289 clinicians, revealed that symptoms like depression (55%), anxiety (57%), severe fatigue (89%), and cognitive dysfunction (70%) are much more prevalent than previously reported. Additionally, three times as many lupus patients reported experiencing suicidal thoughts compared to clinician estimates (47% vs. 15%). These findings highlight a significant discrepancy between patient-reported mental health symptoms and clinician estimates, indicating an urgent need for integrated mental health support within rheumatology care. Interviews with patients revealed that they often felt unsupported and stigmatized, leading to the underreporting of their symptoms. Despite the high prevalence of these symptoms, only 8% of rheumatology departments have a psychologist on their team, underscoring the need for systemic changes to better support patients’ mental health and improve their overall care.

Original Article

Original Study

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