More than half of patients with auto-immune conditions experience mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, yet the majority are rarely or never asked in clinic about mental health symptoms, according to new research from the University of Cambridge and King’s College London.
In a study published today in Rheumatology, researchers found that over half of the patients had rarely or never reported their mental health symptoms to a clinician, and that the range of possible mental health and neurological symptoms is much wider than has been previously reported.
The team surveyed neurological and psychiatric symptoms amongst 1,853 patients with systemic auto-immune rheumatic diseases (SARDs) such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers also surveyed 289 clinicians, mostly rheumatologists, psychiatrists and neurologists, and conducted 113 interviews with patients and clinicians.
The 30 symptoms that the team asked about included fatigue, hallucinations, anxiety and depression. Among the patients in the study, experience of most of these symptoms was very widespread.
In a recent article on News-Medical.net, experts have drawn attention to the urgent need for improved mental health support among autoimmune disease patients. The study reveals that individuals diagnosed with autoimmune conditions are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing mental health challenges, such as depression and anxiety. The burden of managing chronic physical symptoms, coupled with the emotional toll of living with a long-term illness, can severely impact the overall well-being of these patients.
The report emphasizes the necessity of integrating comprehensive mental health care into the treatment plans of autoimmune disease patients. Timely intervention and personalized support can help alleviate the psychological distress associated with their conditions and foster better-coping mechanisms. Experts advocate for a collaborative approach involving healthcare providers, mental health professionals, and support networks to create a holistic system that addresses the physical and emotional aspects of these patients’ well-being.
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