Depressive symptoms and inflammatory bowel disease in children and adolescents: a cross-sectional study

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2004 Oct;39(4):395-403. doi: 10.1097/00005176-200410000-00017.


Objectives: This study assessed the rates of depressive symptoms in older children and adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and the associations between depressive symptoms and IBD disease characteristics.

Methods: One hundred and two youths (aged 11-17 years) with IBD seen consecutively in a gastroenterology clinic were screened for depressive symptoms using the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI). Subjects with CDI scores > or = 12 were evaluated for current psychiatric diagnoses using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children-Present and Lifetime Version (K-SADS-PL). Disease characteristics examined included IBD type, duration, current severity, course, age at diagnosis and steroid treatment.

Results: Of the total sample, 25 (24.5%) had a CDI score > or = 12, consistent with clinically significant depressive symptoms. Nineteen of 25 qualified subjects participated in the K-SADS-PL semi-structured interview and 16 of 19 met criteria for major or minor depressive disorder. Mean CDI scores positively correlated with age at IBD diagnosis but not with IBD type, duration or course. Youths with moderate/severe current IBD-related symptoms had significantly higher mean CDI scores than those with inactive disease activity. Anhedonia, fatigue and decreased appetite were selectively correlated with IBD disease severity. Subjects on steroids were more likely to have CDI scores > or = 12, and those with such scores were on higher doses of steroids than subjects without clinically significant depressive symptoms (both P values < 0.05).

Conclusions: These findings support the recommendation that adolescents with IBD in outpatient medical care settings, particularly older adolescents and those on steroids, should be screened for depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / complications*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diagnosis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / psychology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Steroids / therapeutic use


  • Steroids