Uncertainty Causes Patients with Systemic Autoimmune Conditions to Be Depressed

Data from new research has revealed a clear link between systemic autoimmune rheumatic disorders and mental health concerns such as anxiety, and depression. These mental health outcomes are due to illness-related uncertainty.

Dr. Zachary Wallace from Massachusetts General Hospital states that while current medications have proven to be effective in addressing the symptoms of rheumatoid conditions, patients often struggle to come to terms with their diagnosis and how it will impact the rest of their lives.

Katie Willard Virant, a psychotherapist, adds that to live with a chronic illness is to live with a heightened sense of uncertainty. According to Wallace, medical professionals still don’t understand illness-related uncertainty and how it can affect mental health very well. To fill this crucial knowledge gap, he and his colleagues selected Massachusetts General Hospital patients living with ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV), systemic sclerosis (SSc) and lgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD) because they possess factors that make them more likely to cause patient uncertainty.

Eligible patients were asked to complete multiple surveys covering their comorbidities, disease activity and demographics. They also completed the Patient Health Questionnaire-8, Sickness Impact Profile, the Michel Uncertainty in Illness Scale (MUIS), the Needs Survey, the Health Behavior Questionnaire and the General Anxiety Disorder-7.

The researchers discovered that of the total number of patients involved, more than 30% had AAV, at least 45% had IgG4-RD and 23% had SSc. AAv and SSc patients tended to have higher uncertainty scores. Additionally, about 35% of the total patients surveyed reported mild symptoms of depression while nearly 42% reported feeling mildly severe symptoms of anxiety. The researchers also found that 51% of the AAv patients reported that they experienced anxiety symptoms in comparison to 27% of SSc patients and 21% of IgG4-RD patients.

In their conclusion, the researchers noted that there was a “moderately strong association” between sickness impact and patient uncertainty coupled with depression. Furthermore, the research revealed that patients living with systemic autoimmune rheumatic disorders were interested in and could benefit a great deal from psychological support during treatment.

Wallace explained that these patients had unaddressed needs that were strongly connected with mental health outcomes and overall well-being. Without much-needed psychological support and resources, such patients often suffer from increased disease impact, anxiety and depression due to illness-related uncertainty.

Being aware of the effects of illness-related uncertainty, being able to talk about it and having access to resources needed to weather the dip in mental health that accompanies systemic autoimmune rheumatic disorders can help patients enjoy a better quality of life. In the meantime, efforts are underway by companies such as Aditxt Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTX) to come up with formulations that can help to reprogram the immune system so that autoimmune conditions are brought under control.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Aditxt Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTX) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/ADTX

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