A recent study entitled “Symptoms of depression impact the course of lung function in adolescents and adults with cystic fibrosis,” published in the journal BMC Pulmonary Medicine examined depression as potential predictor of a decline in lung function in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF).
Forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1%) is a key outcome in cystic fibrosis (CF) for monitoring the course of the disease. Average rates of annual decline in FEV1% are reported to be between one and three percent.
Depression is a severe mental health condition that is estimated to affect 6.9% of people in Europe and 8.6% in the US, and is increasingly becoming one of the major public health concerns worldwide.
Evidence from epidemiological studies show that nine percent of adolescents and adult patients with CF present clinical depression. In this context, it is important to address depression as a component of comprehensive medical treatment.
Evidence-based treatments for depression are available, however, patients with CF are not being given access to these treatments, according to the researchers.
It has been suggested that progression of CF drives co-morbid depression. The association between depression and the course of the CF may be reciprocal, but so far, there have been no longitudinal studies that disentangled this relationship in patients with CF.
In this regard, Astrid Fidika and colleagues from the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Psychotherapy at the University Ulm Medical Centre in Germany, analyzed 473 patients with a diagnosis of CF for depressive symptoms using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, which is a “gold standard” questionnaire in clinical practice to assess symptoms of anxiety and depression. Additionally, lung function (FEV%) was evaluated. Afterward, the researchers repeated the procedure after two years to see if depression was a predictor of a decline in lung function in patients with CF.
Results from the study indicated an association between depression and lung function at baseline. After two years follow-up, a marked decline in lung function was observed in those patients with depression at baseline.
At the present time, the researchers underscore the fact that patients with CF with co-morbid depression are not receiving psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological treatments to address their symptoms. Findings from this study indicated that clinicians should screen patients with CF for depression and to treat this severe condition along with CF.