Objectives: The purpose was to determine the short-term course of depression among dialysis patients in Saudi Arabia and identify baseline characteristics that may influence course.
Methods: Thirty-nine dialysis patients in Jeddah, SA, were identified with subthreshold, minor, or major depressive disorders using the Structured Clinical Interview for Depression (SCID) and followed up at 6 and 12 weeks using the Longitudinal Interview and Follow-up Evaluation (LIFE) schedule. Depressive symptoms were tracked using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS). Patient characteristics measured at baseline included demographic, psychosocial, physical health, and treatment factors.
Results: Of the 20 patients with major or minor depressive disorder, eight (40 %) fully remitted by 6 weeks and an additional three patients remitted over the next 6 weeks, leaving 45 % with significant depressive symptoms persisting beyond 12 weeks. Subthreshold disorders followed a similar course (42 % with persistent symptoms). Few patients received treatment for depression. Those with more education, severe health problems, poorer psychological function, more severe depressive symptoms, or a family psychiatric history were less likely to remit. Similar factors predicted change in depressive symptoms assessed by HDRS, especially high medical co-morbidity, severe illness, and overall poor psychological functioning.
Conclusions: Nearly one-half of depressed dialysis patients in Saudi Arabia continue to have significant symptoms beyond 12 weeks of follow-up, few of whom were treated. Specific characteristics at baseline identify depressed dialysis patients at greater risk of persistent symptoms who need treatment.