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Huge hidden impact of arthritis on mental wellbeing

12:00am | & Health

That could mean up to eight million people suffering mental health problems – many of them going unaddressed – brought on by arthritis in its various forms.

These are the startling results of a survey released today by leading UK charity Arthritis Care as part of its ‘Wake Up to Arthritis’ campaign, a new initiative designed to increase awareness and understanding of the common ailment. Arthritis affects around 10 million adults in the UK alone, about a fifth of the adult population.

The physical effects of arthritis in causing stiff and painful joints, often leading to reduced mobility, are well-documented and widely known. Much less prominent, but just as damaging, are the hidden effects of the condition on mental health.

More than 3,000 people across the UK responded to Arthritis Care’s survey on the effects of arthritis on mental wellbeing. It found that:

  • 79% feel anxious or depressed because of their arthritis
  • 80% have given up activities they previously enjoyed
  • 89% worry how their arthritis will impact their future independence
  • 50% feel isolated or lonely because of their arthritis and 47% have lost contact with friends
  • 58% struggle with daily activities such as washing, dressing and making meals
  • Only 43% feel able to manage their arthritis well.

In more detail, the survey found feelings of anxiety and depression were stronger among those experiencing severe pain and fatigue, who were also more likely to have given up social activities and become more isolated.

Judi Rhys, Chief Executive of Arthritis Care, said: “Our survey results give an alarming insight into the huge emotional toll that living with arthritis is having on mental wellbeing.

“Arthritis is usually seen as a physical condition, but we know there’s a strong link with anxiety, low mood and depression. Too often, living in pain and coping with fatigue means that people give up the activities they enjoy and their independence is put at risk. It’s clear that the limitations which arthritis imposes on many people’s lives is having a profound effect.

“This survey is a wake-up call to governments and health services to recognise the hidden impact of arthritis and ensure that people get the support they need to enjoy a full and active life.”

In light of its survey results, Arthritis Care is calling for better recognition of the full impact of arthritis by UK government and health services. It also wants improved integration of mental and physical health services in relation to arthritis care, and better access to support with self-management and pain-management services.

The ‘Wake up to Arthritis’ campaign is the focus of Arthritis Care Week 2017, running from May 8th to 14th. Throughout this week Acorn Stairlifts is supporting the charity by devoting its daily blog to different aspects of arthritis and coping with the condition.

Arthritis is the single biggest reason why people invest in an Acorn Stairlift, enhancing the quality of their daily lives when the stairs in their home become a challenge due to reduced mobility. Although arthritis comes in many forms and can strike at any age, the most common form is osteoarthritis (also called ‘wear and tear arthritis’), which mainly affects older people.

Investing in an Acorn Stairlifts helps people with reduced mobility to keep their independence and not only remain in the homes they love, but continue to enjoy full use of them. Removing the daily obstacle of stairs is one practical way to reduce the feelings of anxiety and depression linked to arthritis and other mobility-impairing conditions.

The full results of Arthritis Care’s survey can be found by clicking here. You can also access a mine of information, advice and support for people living with arthritis by visiting the charity’s website at or calling its free and confidential helpline on 0808 800 4050. You can also download Arthritis Care’s free information booklet, “Feelings Matter”, by clicking here.

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