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Rheumatic Disease Disfigurement Linked to Depression

(PSYCHIATRIC TIMES) - MedPage Today Action Points

o Be aware that patients with physical disfigurement from rheumatic disease may be at increased risk for depression.

o This study suggests that patients with rheumatic arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus should be screened for concerns about body image, even in the absence of objective physical disfigurement.

SYDNEY, Australia, March 12 -- Unhappiness with the appearance of swollen and twisted joints in the hands and feet of rheumatoid arthritis patients can predict depression, researchers here said.

The same holds true for the skin rashes and lesions characteristic of systemic lupus erythematosus, said Louise Sharpe, M.D., of the University of Sydney here.

Nearly one-third of RA patients reported concerns about their physical appearance, as did more than half of those with SLE, Dr. Sharpe and colleagues reported in the March 15 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

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