Depression on the rise in patients with rheumatic diseases

Like all chronic diseases, rheumatic diseases have a significant impact on the patient, from both a physical and psychological point of view. Patients are faced with constant pain, which often brings about states of anxiety and depression.  At the 55th National Congress of the Italian Society of Rheumatology (SIR), it was noted that 65% of women and 59% of men that live with a rheumatic disease also suffer from mood disorders.

Sleeping disorders: from chronic fatigue to depression

Patients affected by rheumatic diseases often have sleeping disorders.  A sleep study confirmed that people afflicted with disease suffer from more disturbed sleep than healthy people and for this reason complain of a greater sense of fatigue. Aches and joint pain make it more difficult to fall asleep and sometimes cause people to wake up during the night or earlier in the morning.  Furthermore, a disfunction in the endocrine system and chronic inflammation contribute to deteriorated quality of sleep. Tiredness, which conditions the quality of daily activities that are already undermined by the rheumatic disease, has led to depression in many cases (according to some figures, in one out of two cases). Chronotherapy, the administration of medication at specific times during the day to coordinate the biological rhythms of the body, has been helpful. For example, sustained-released formulations, both anti-inflammatory and sleep-regulating medication, are often more effective than traditional medication. Experts have highlighted the importance of evaluating sleep, fatigue and mood in traditional tests for rheumatic diseases. Sleep disorders and depression can be real indicators of the disease given that improving a patient’s quality of life must be given the same priority of remission and the disappearance of symptoms.  

Gender medicine and mood monitoring: new approaches to treating rheumatic diseases 

One study emphasized how men and women have different reactions to disorders linked to rheumatic diseases. Anxiety, depression and difficulty in carrying out every day activities are more pronounced in women while men deal with more problems at work. For example, many patients do not speak about their lawful rights for fear of losing their job or becoming a victim of mobbing. For this reason, many experts support gender medicine, or rather, a different therapeutic approach for men and women, especially effective in rheumatology where the two genders have different reactions to the disease. Anxiety and depression often stem as a consequence of rheumatic diseases, another factor that must be taken into consideration when treating patients. Anxiety and depression can lead to deterioration in the patient’s quality of life, which consequently worsens the course of the disease, a vicious circle that becomes more and more difficult to break. This is another reason why the psychological aspects of a disease should not be underestimated and patients must be treated immediately, in a hospital or at home, upon the first signs of depression.

© Domedica s.r.l.

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