Depressive symptoms associated with scleroderma

Arthritis Rheum. 1996 Jun;39(6):1035-40. doi: 10.1002/art.1780390623.


Objective: To examine the prevalence and correlates of depressive symptoms among patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc; scleroderma).

Method: Fifty-four outpatients with scleroderma were administered the Beck Depression Inventory, the Neuroticism-Extraversion-Openness Personality Inventory, the Health Assessment Questionnaire, and the Psychosocial Adjustment to Illness Scale. In addition, patients underwent a comprehensive clinical assessment, and pulmonary function tests were obtained.

Results: Nearly half of the patients had mild depressive symptoms, and an additional 17% had symptoms in the moderate-to-severe range. Younger patients, those with digital ulceration, and those with more self-rate functional impairment had more depressive symptoms, but there were few other relationships between depressive symptoms and either demographic or physician-rated medical variables. In contrast, there were highly significant relationships between depression and aspects of personality, psychosocial adjustment to illness, and social support.

Conclusion: Depressive symptoms in patients with SSc are more strongly related to personality, self-rated disability, and adequacy of emotional support than to objective medical indices of illness severity. Depression in scleroderma is a debilitating comorbid condition that should be recognized and treated in its own right.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurotic Disorders / etiology
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires