Background: Depressive symptoms are associated with noncompliance and even sudden death in asthma patients. Some studies suggest that low-income, minority, inner-city asthma patients may be at high risk for asthma-related morbidity and mortality in which depression may be a risk factor. Minimal data are available on the prevalence of depression and other mood disorders in asthma patients.
Objective: In this pilot study, we examined the prevalence of depression and the association between depression and measures of asthma severity in patients at an inner-city asthma clinic.
Methods: Mood disorders were diagnosed using a diagnostic interview given to patients (N = 44) at asthma clinic visits. Inhaled steroid dose, FEV1 percentage, and asthma severity were also obtained.
Results: Eighteen patients (41%) had a lifetime mood disorder but only seven of these patients received pharmacotherapy. Patients with a past mood disorder had significantly higher FEV1 percentage predicted values (P = 0.03) than those without a mood disorder. Trends toward less severe asthma (P = 0.13) and lower inhaled steroid dose (P = 0.13) in patients with a mood disorder history were also found.
Conclusions: The data suggest that mood disorders are common, but often unrecognized and untreated in asthma patients. The data also suggest that mood disorders are not necessarily associated with more severe asthma, at least in the population studied.