Rheumatic diseases are chronic debilitating conditions with a known association with anxiety and depression. Individuals with rheumatic diseases experience more psychological distress as these conditions mostly follows a painful, progressively disabling course. The aim of this study was to assess the levels and explore factors associated with anxiety and depression experienced by Greek patients with rheumatic diseases. The sample consisted of 108 patients with rheumatic diseases who visited a rheumatology outpatient clinic. Data collection was conducted using a questionnaire which included patients’ characteristics and the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS) and Anxiety Scale (SAS). Of the 108 patients in the current study, 44.6% and 41.5% were assessed with depression and anxiety, respectively. Among patients exhibiting depression, 13% had severe depression, with the rest having moderate (12%) and mild (19.6%) severity of depression. Among patients exhibiting anxiety, the majority (20.2%) exhibited mild anxiety, whereas 17% of patients exhibited moderate and 4.3% severe anxiety. Higher levels of depression were experienced by those who experienced severe pain (p=0.001), those who were relapsed (p=0.008), those who had quitted their job due to health limitations (p=0.021), those who had the experience of a miscarriage (p=0.021) and those who used antidepressant or antianxiety medication (p<0.001). Higher levels of anxiety were experienced by female (p=0.011), the unemployed (p=0.047), those who experienced severe pain (p<0.001), those who were relapsed (p=0.015) and those who used antidepressant or antianxiety medication (p<0.001). Individuals with rheumatic diseases should be monitored for accompanying anxiety or depression during follow-up. Given their high prevalence, their profound impact on quality of life, and the range of effective treatments available, health care providers should be encouraged to screen all patients for both anxiety and depression. It is important to assess patients’ characteristics when implementing strategies to confront with psychiatric disorders in this vulnerable population group.

Key words: Anxiety, depression, rheumatic diseases, pain, primary care.

A. Zartaloudi, I. Koutelekos, M. Polikandrioti, S. Stefanidou, D. Koukoularis, E. Kyritsi (page 140)

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