Background: Chronic illness is a significant risk factor for the development of internalizing psychopathology; however, evidence for the prevalence of these symptoms in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) is limited. We investigated the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety and depression in German-speaking patients with CF and the association of these symptoms to physical health status.
Methods: A representative sample of German patients with CF (N = 670; age range, 12-64 years; 52.7% men) completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Their medical data were taken from the German CF registry. Data on the study sample were compared with data on a control group from the German general population.
Results: Elevated anxiety scores were found in 20.6% of the patients with CF, and 9.6% reported high levels of symptoms of depression. Adult patients with CF reported more elevated symptoms of anxiety than healthy control subjects, whereas no age group of patients was more or less depressed than the general population. Younger patients reported fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression than older patients, and women reported more symptoms of anxiety than men. Recent hemoptysis/pneumothorax and recent diagnosis of diabetes were associated with anxiety, whereas impaired lung function and transplant listing status were associated with depression.
Conclusions: Anxiety in particular is an important issue for a large proportion of patients with CF. The risk of depression increased with greater impairment in pulmonary function. Annual screening of symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as appropriate referrals for those in the clinically elevated range are recommended.