Date of this Version
Objective. To determine whether a previous episode of major depression leaves a “scar” that places previously depressed patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at risk for experiencing high levels of pain, fatigue, and disability.
Methods. A cohort of 203 patients with RA was randomly selected from a national panel and interviewed by phone about pain, fatigue, depressive symptoms, disability, and history of major depression.
Results. Excluding patients who met the criteria for current major depression, patients with both a history of depression and many depressive symptoms at the time of the interview (dysphoria) reported more pain than those without current dysphoria, irrespective of whether they had a history of depression. Dysphoria alone was not reliably related to pain reports.
Conclusion. An episode of major depression, even if it occurs prior to the onset of RA, leaves patients at risk for higher levels of pain when depressive symptoms persist, even years after the depressive episode.