Depression is not more common in rheumatoid arthritis: a 10-year longitudinal study of 6,153 patients with rheumatic disease

J Rheumatol. 1993 Dec;20(12):2025-31.


Objective: To determine if depression scores and depressive symptoms are higher in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than among those with other rheumatic disorders; and to describe norms for the Arthritis Impact Measurement Scale (AIMS) depression scale.

Methods: A 100% sample of all clinic visits of 6,153 consecutive patients with rheumatic disease seen in an outpatient rheumatic disease clinic during a 10-year period. 19,122 AIMS depression scores were utilized. For each patient an average depression score was calculated. Covariates included age, sex, education level, ethnic origin, and number of clinic visits.

Results: RA depressive symptoms and depression scores did not differ from all other clinic patients (taken as a whole). Patients with fibromyalgia had significantly more abnormal scores.

Conclusion: Depression scores are not higher or depressive symptoms more common in patients with RA compared with other clinic patients. By every measure depression is increased in fibromyalgia. The notion that patients with RA have increased depression or are somehow more susceptible to depression is not supported by the data and should be abandoned.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / psychology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rheumatic Diseases / psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Antidepressive Agents