Researchers have known for some time that depressive symptoms are linked to rapid kidney function decline among patients with chronic kidney disease. Now though, they have found that frequent symptoms of depression are linked to a rapid decline in kidney function among those who have healthy kidneys to begin with.
For the study, researchers examined data from 4,763 patients with healthy kidneys. At the beginning of the study, 39% of patients had high depressive symptoms. These symptoms were measured via the ten-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale. Meanwhile, kidney function was measured via serum creatinine and cystatin C.
At the median follow-up after four years, the researchers found that 6% of participants had experienced a rapid decline in kidney function. In particular, they found that patients with frequent depressive symptoms at the start of the study were 1.4 times more likely to experience rapid kidney function decline than patients with less frequent depressive symptoms. This relationship remained the same after adjustments were made to the analysis.
“CKD [Chronic kidney disease] is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and mortality worldwide. Therefore, the identification of more modifiable risk factors may possibly reduce the huge burden of CKD and its related complications by leading to early detection and prevention,” says Dr. Xianhui Qin, lead author of the study.
“While our study does not show causality, it demonstrated that high depressive symptoms were significantly associated with rapid decline in kidney function among Chinese adults with normal kidney function. If further confirmed, our data provide some evidence for depressive symptom screening and effective psychosocial interventions to improve the prevention of CKD.”
While interesting findings, the researchers say they are not without limitations. In particular, they mention that more frequent kidney function assays and urine evaluations would have given more accurate measures of kidney function over time. They also note that their study was only conducted on Chinese participants aged 45 years and older and thus may not be reflective of other populations.