Depression Linked to Kidney Disease, Even in Early Stages

August 12, 2014, 10:06am EDT

Depression has long been associated with end stage kidney disease, but a new study published in this month's American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the official journal of the National Kidney Foundation, found that 20% of patients with early stage chronic kidney disease (CKD) also suffered from depression

Researchers led by Susan Hedayati, MD, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, found that the prevalence of major depressive episodes in chronic kidney disease patients is greater than those reported for patients with other chronic diseases including diabetes (11%), congestive heart failure (14%) and coronary artery disease (16%).

Researchers studied 272 patients with CKD in stages two through five who they categorized as depressed or nondepressed based on the presence or absence of the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) diagnosis of a current major depressive episode. One in five patients met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria for a major depressive episode.

"Unemployment, psychiatric illness and diabetes were factors that seemed to contribute to depression in the chronic kidney disease patients we studied," says Hedayati. "Patients with chronic kidney disease should understand that they are at increased risk for depression and ask physicians to monitor them regularly for signs of depression.

"Early screening is especially important since depression is associated with poor outcomes in patients with end stage kidney disease. In fact, long term dialysis patients with clinical depression are twice as likely to die or require hospitalization," continues Hedayati.

To help patients manage depression, the National Kidney Foundation offers the following tips:

  • Try to be with other people and to confide in someone
  • Expect your mood to improve gradually not immediately
  • Aim for 8 hours of sleep per day
  • Exercise regularly; even if it's taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking the car further away from the store

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