The Complex Relationship Between Sickle Cell Disease and Depression.

Soheir S. Adam, Charlene Flahiff, Mary R Abrams, Marilyn J. Telen and Laura M. De Castro


Abstract 2585

Poster Board II-561

A high prevalence of depression has been described in both chronic diseases and diseases associated with chronic pain. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a congenital and lifelong complex hematological illness in which both acute and chronic pain are described as hallmarks. Depression prevalence has also been reported as high in SCD. Clinical depression may lead to decreased compliance with prescribed medical treatments, and thus deteriorating function and health status. Furthermore, depressed patients report more frequent painful episodes. Pain and depression can also both have negative effects on health-related quality of life (QoL) measures in a chronically ill population.

Methods: We performed an analytic epidemiologic prospective study to determine the prevalence of depression (as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory [BDI]) in 70 adult SCD patients at baseline (no pain episodes within 30 days) who receive their SCD disease-related care primarily from our clinic. We also assessed the association between the prevalence of depression, QoL, and severity scores measuring end organ damage as previously described (Afenyi-Annan et al. 2008). To measure mental and physical QoL domains, patients were administered the SF36 QoL scale. A short computerized test, “CNS Vital Signs,” was used to assess patients' neurocognitive function. Pain diaries were used to determine the use of short-term and long-term narcotics.

Results: The sample included 38 females and 32 males, ages 19 – 76 years (mean 36). Mean severity score was 1.61 (SD 1.1; range 0–4). Nineteen patients (27%) had clinical depression by BDI. Nine of them (47%) were classified as severe. The gender ratio was 2:1 F:M. Patients with depression were significantly older (mean age 39.8 vs. 35.0 yrs, p<0.05). The ratio of hemoglobin SS versus other sickle-related hemoglobinopathies was 1:1 in those with depression versus 2:1 in those without depression. Severity scores were not statistically different between those with or without depression (1.8 ±1.1 vs. 1.5±1.2). Nineteen of 51 patients (37%) without depression had a prior history of central nervous system events, while only 4 of 19 (21%) with depression did; this difference was not statistically significant. Similarly, no statistical difference in neurocognitive function was noted between patients with and without depression, when tested for the following 5 domains: memory, psychomotor speed, reaction time, complex attention, and cognitive flexibility. Both the physical and mental domains of the QoL testing showed significantly lower scores for those patients with depression when compared with those without depression (p=0.007 and p<0.0001, respectively). For the mental domain, there was also a statistically significant inverse correlation between the level of depression and domain score. Lastly, neither current therapy with long-acting narcotics or antidepressive medications showed association with the presence of depression.

Summary: We conclude that there is likely a complex and thus far poorly understood interaction between multiple SCD cofactors and the presence of depression in this patient population. QoL rather than disease severity is the measure most strongly related to depression in our study.


Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.