Depression and appearance-related distress in functioning with lipedema

Psychol Health Med. 2018 Aug;23(7):846-853. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2018.1459750. Epub 2018 Apr 3.


Lipedema is a chronic, progressive adipose tissue disorder that may impact the quality of life of women who suffer from it. The main aim of this study was to asses the role of perceived symptom severity, physical and psychological functioning with the disease in predicting quality of life in patients with lipedema. We conducted an online study with 329 participants who responded to five questionnaires measuring quality of life (World Health Organization Quality of Life BREF), lipedema symptom severity, mobility (Lower Extremity Functional Scale), depression (Patients Health Questionnaire-9), and appearance-related distress (Derriford Appearance Scale 24). Multiple hierarchical regression analyses showed that appearance-related distress and depression explained significantly more variance in quality of life when added to the symptom severity and mobility. Lower quality of life was predicted by higher symptom severity, lower mobility, higher appearance-related distress and higher depression severity. Appearance-related distress and depression constitute important aspects of psychological functioning in women with lipedema. Considering their relationship with quality of life, their assessment should be included in lipedema treatment with appropriate interventions aimed at decreasing appearance-related distress, as well as preventing and addressing depression.

Keywords: Lipedema; appearance-related distress; depression; disfigurement; lipoedema; quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipedema / physiopathology
  • Lipedema / psychology*
  • Lower Extremity / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity
  • Obesity, Morbid
  • Perception
  • Physical Appearance, Body*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult