Depression Linked to More Rapid Progression from Kidney Disease to Kidney Failure

New York, NY (July 1, 2012) - People with kidney disease who have symptoms of depression may be on the fast track to dialysis, hospitalization or death, according to a new study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the official journal of the National Kidney Foundation.

Researchers led by Hung-Chun Chen, MD, PhD of Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital in Taiwan, studied 428 participants with chronic kidney disease (CKD), 160 of whom were found to have depressive symptoms using the Beck Depression Inventory questionnaire. Follow up was conducted between one and three years later and results indicated that 119 had developed end stage kidney failure, 17 had died and 110 were hospitalized. Participants with high depressive symptoms had more rapid kidney function decrease.

"We knew that depression in dialysis patients was associated with a higher risk of hospitalization and death. This study extends that finding to earlier stage kidney disease. Doctors should monitor their CKD patients for signs of depression and treat it as that may help to prevent progression of the disease. Treating depression isn't just about improving quality of life. It may actually improve patient health and outcomes," said Dr. Kerry Willis, National Kidney Foundation Senior Vice President for Scientific Activities.

According to Dr. Chen, chronic kidney disease patients are more likely to experience depression than the normal population and the impact of depression on progression of chronic kidney disease was continuous and evident at any stage of the disease. "The reason for this connection may be because depression increases inflammation in the body and inflammation promotes progression of kidney disease. Additionally, CKD patients with depression may not be compliant with medical treatment and may engage in unhealthy behaviors that cause poor medical outcomes," said Chen.

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

The National Kidney Foundation, Inc. (NKF) is dedicated to preventing kidney disease, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by kidney disease, and increasing the availability of organs for transplantation.

To learn more about chronic kidney disease or dialysis contact the National Kidney Foundation at or (800) 622-9010.