Depression in sickle cell disease

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Purpose: To assess the prevalence of depressive symptoms and examine the contribution of demographics, disease severity, and health care use variables to depressive symptoms in sickle cell patients who had been in Stable health for at least one month. Patients and Methods: Subjects were a convenience sample of 27 men and 23 women selected during a routine visit to the sickle cell clinic at Howard University Hospital. Depression was assessed using a cut-off score from the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and related to a variety of health outcomes. Results: The results of the analyses indicate that 44% (n=22) of the sample scored within the mild to severe (>20) range of depression on the BDI. Depressed sickle cell patients were more frequently treated in emergency rooms and more likely to be hospitalized with vaso-occlusive crises. Patients more likely to be depressed were: those with low family income (<$ 10,000); less than high school education; female; those who had multiple blood transfusions; poor pain control; inadequate social support; hydroxyurea use; and had histories of frequent vaso-occlusive crises. Conclusion: The prevalence of depressive symptoms in sickle cell patients is high compared to the general African American population. Our findings confirmed previous studies examining the occurrence of depression in adults with sickle cell disease. Treatment of depression should be strongly considered to improve the quality of life and probably disease course in sickle cell patients.

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