Is it the “Kidney Blues” or Depression?

July 07, 2017, 3:59pm EDT

Q: I’m worried because sometimes I feel so sad and overwhelmed by my kidney disease. Does this mean that I am depressed? How do I know if I need help?

A: If you have kidney disease, you’ve likely experienced some “lows” in your mood. It’s very common to feel sad, frustrated or angry, particularly when you start treatment or when you’re faced with setbacks like failed accesses, cramping or transportation problems.
Kidney failure and depression share many of the same symptoms—like fatigue, sleep problems, poor appetite and difficulty concentrating. Kidney failure can also affect your relationships, employment and leisure time, resulting in symptoms of depression.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, does this mean that you are depressed? Not necessarily. These feelings are normal and expected. They can be temporary or fleeting, but they may last longer. If your sadness doesn’t lessen over several weeks, talk with a member of your healthcare team who can help you figure out if your symptoms are related to kidney failure or if you are experiencing depression. Your healthcare team can help you find additional support and ways to cope, which might include medication, counseling or other strategies.
It is important to recognize that depression is a common occurrence in dialysis patients; however, it is very treatable! Seeking help doesn’t mean that you’re “crazy” or weak – it is a sign that you need help and seek it out. By finding ways to get what you need, you can feel better. With the right help, you will learn to overcome depressive symptoms, becoming a stronger and healthier person.
Response courtesy of Mark Conard, PhD