Anxiety and depression lower quality of life in majority of systemic lupus erythematosus patients

June 12, 2009

92.8% of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) suffer anxiety and depression which significantly affects both their physical and emotional quality of life (QoL), according to the results of a new study. Logistic regression analysis revealed that depression was the most significant factor shown to affect QoL (p=0.015; OR=0.18; CI 95%:0.045-0.72).

In the study, 92.8% (52 of 56) of the patients who were diagnosed with SLE had an element of confirmed neuropsychiatric (NP) involvement (including anxiety, depression, mild cognitive deficits and major NP involvement). Several other conditions that may occur alongside SLE were also shown to influence aspects of QoL (as measured by a selection of health assessment tools), including:

  • Cutaneous (skin) conditions as Raynaud's phenomenon (identified in 37.5% of the patients)
  • Serositis (identified in 8.9% of the patients)
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia (a that is a risk factor for coronary artery disease) (identified in 39.3% of the patients)
  • Antiphospholipid antibodies (a disorder of coagulation) (identified in 66.1% of the patients)

Dr Paola Tomietto of the University of Trieste, Italy, who conducted the study, said: "People with SLE experience a range of both psychological and physical symptoms which can negatively impact their quality of life. This study shows that the psychological impact of SLE on quality of life includes elements of anxiety and depression. Thus, clinicians should try to identify and address the presence of mood disorders in their SLE patients in order to improve both their emotional quality of life but and, ultimately, their physical functioning."

56 consecutive SLE patients undertook the Medical Outcome Survey Short Form 36 (SF-36), to assess health-related quality of life, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and a neuropsychological battery for testing cognitive deficits. Neuropsychiatric and extra-cerebral involvement, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) and the Erythematosus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) damage indexes, antiphospholipid antibodies and hyperhomocysteinemia were recorded for all the patients. Data were analysed through the Spearman correlation coefficient and a logistic regression analysis.

SLICC-DI was correlated with the physical activity (PA) subscale of the SF-36 (r=-0.44; p=0.001) and with the physical component summary (PCS) (r=-0.267; p=0.047); it was related also to the number of NP events (r=0.35; p=0.007). SLEDAI did not correlate with any of the subscale of SF-36. The total summary score, the PCS and the mental component summary (MCS) scores of the SF-36 were all inversely correlated with the number of NP events (for all r=-0,5, p<0,001) and, in particular, with anxiety and (for tsc r=-0,56, p<0.001); any relationship was found with non-psychiatric cerebral manifestations.

SLE is a complex autoimmune disease characterised by chronic inflammation and damage to body tissues, which occurs as a result of the production of abnormal antibodies that target and cause damage to cells of the patient's body, including immune cells. SLE has the potential to affect a variety of areas of the body, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and/or nervous system. The course of the disease is unpredictable, with periods of illness (called flares) alternating with remission. Lupus can occur at any age but is most common in women, particularly of non-European descent.

Source: European League Against Rheumatism

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jim444
5 / 5 (1) Jun 13, 2009
This is not at all surprising..in fact I dont really know why they bothered with these type of studies..

If you are sick and really sick you get fed up..not only that these Autoimmune diseases do not get the care and understanding the patients need.

Please let us focus on better care outcomes and new treatments...if anything at least this shows the world the mental toll as well as the physical...yet some intepret these results as proof a person who gets depressed and anxious is more likely to suffer these diseases...thats not the way I see it..and feel these results indicate simply more needs tobe done for these people !
Nan2
not rated yet Jun 15, 2009
I echo your sentiments jim444. Causation due to vexing illness is the source of anxiety/depression in auto-immune diseases and other chronic diseases that are progressive.

Priorities do appear lost in funding for research as well as development of more effective treatment regimes which are comprehensive as opposed to ad hoc in addressing the layers of problems people encounter with complex chronic diseases.

With better quality of life that includes stress/anxiety/depression management, a long understood factor in disease states for auto-immune diseases (and likely others), not only is quality of life improved for individuals but likely a decrease in costs over the course.

The current modification of old assessment tools which measure disease progress and patient status somewhat inadequate particularly during waning periods of disease activity. Although these are useful during more active disease states, it does not address the long-term issues, underlying issues and the overall comprehensive patient state. More simply, they are too narrow and fail to recognize the systemic nature of auto-immune disease. Even when disease states are relatively stable, patients are challenged otherwise, these particular problems do not follow textbook examples, cross-over symptoms likely common for different auto-immune diseases. Physicians are likely to dismiss those challenges which are not directly related to their specialty treatment and disease specific assessment tools.

In fewer words, a comprehensive approach that includes long term management and funding for patients to execute on that management would likely provide better overall outcomes.

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