Objective: To assess the prevalence and predictors of symptoms of depression in a large sample of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional, multicenter study of 376 patients with SSc from the Canadian Scleroderma Research Group Registry. Patients were assessed with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and through extensive clinical histories and medical examinations. Hierarchical multiple linear regression was used to assess the relationship of sociodemographic and clinical variables with symptoms of depression.
Results: The percentages of patients who scored > or =16 and > or =23 on the CES-D were 35.1% and 18.1%, respectively. Patients with less education; patients who were not married; patients with higher physician-rated overall disease severity; and patients with more tender joints, more gastrointestinal symptoms, and more difficulty breathing had significantly higher total CES-D scores. As a group, specific symptom indicators (tender joints, gastrointestinal symptoms, breathing) predicted the most incremental variance in depressive symptoms (DeltaR(2) = 14.2%, P < 0.001) despite being added to the model after demographic, socioeconomic, and global disease duration/severity indicators.
Conclusion: High levels of depressive symptoms are common in patients with SSc and are related to overall SSc disease severity, as well as specific medical symptoms. Screening for depression among patients with SSc is recommended, although more research is needed to determine the best method for doing this. Successfully treating dyspnea, gastrointestinal symptoms, and joint pain may improve mood, although this has not yet been demonstrated.