Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects a large number of people throughout the world. Anxiety, depression and fatigue are common symptoms of SLE that substantially contribute to decreased quality of life. This study investigates the interplay between physical and psychiatric manifestations of lupus. To this end, an SLE patient cohort was examined for correlations between clinical presentation, laboratory tests, and psychological indicators.
Seventy-two lupus patients were evaluated for psychological status using a battery of instruments, including assessments for fatigue (CFS & FSS), depression (HADS), anxiety (HADS), overall health (SF-36 & PSQI) and intimate relationship satisfaction (RAS & CSI). Scores from these assessments were correlated with lupus clinical profiles and laboratory test values.
The prevalence of depression in the SLE patient cohort was 41.7%, as measured by the hospital depression and anxiety scale. The study identified that pain (p = 0.001), body mass index (p = 0.026), Chalder’s fatigue scale (p < 0.001), fatigue severity scale (p < 0.001), and anxiety (p = 0.001) are all positively correlated with depression in SLE patients. Total complement (CH50) (p = 0.032), and SF-36 physical and mental characteristic assessments are negatively correlated with depression. Longitudinal analysis indicated that the disease related complaint alopecia (p = 0.008) and relationship assessment scale scores (p = 0.004) may also be correlated to depression in SLE patients. Multivariant scrutiny of the clinical and psychosocial characteristics identified the fatigue severity scale (p = 0.026), SF-36 physical function (p = 0.040), physical role function (0.030), and mental health (p = 0.002) as the best indicators directly correlated with depression for the SLE cohort.
These results reveal the influence of physical manifestations of lupus including fatigue, pain, body mass index and anxiety, as well as decreased physical and mental function, on depression. Fatigue is the strongest factor correlated with depression in SLE patients in the cohort. Both physical and social/psychological aspects likely contribute to the depression and anxiety in lupus.