Two sets of contributory factors to depression among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are generally examined - the social context of the individual and the biologic disease state of that person's RA. This article will review the evidence for both. RA affects patients both physically and psychologically. Comorbid depression is common with RA and leads to worse health outcomes. Low socioeconomic status, gender, age, race/ethnicity, functional limitation, pain and poor clinical status have all been linked to depression among persons with RA. Systemic inflammation may also be associated with, cause, or contribute to depression in RA. Understanding the socioeconomic factors, individual patient characteristics and biologic causes of depression in RA can lead to a more comprehensive paradigm for targeting interventions to eliminate depression in RA.