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Could Depressive Symptoms Act as a Predictor for Rapid Kidney Decline?

FREQUENT depressive symptoms have been linked to future rapid kidney decline in a study of adults with normal kidney function. Clinical depression is a common condition amongst middle-aged and older adults and is known to contribute to a variety of mental and physical problems. Previous research has demonstrated a link between depressive symptoms and a rapid decline in kidney function in patients suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD). A team of researchers led by Xianhui Qin, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, China, undertook a study in adults with normal kidney function who had frequent depressive symptoms in order to investigate the link between those symptoms and rapid kidney decline. 

The research team examined the medical history of 4,763 individuals with healthy kidneys when they enrolled in the CHARLS. At the start of the study, 39% of the participants were classified as having high depressive symptoms. In the median follow-up of 4 years, 6% of participants were found to have experienced rapid kidney function decline. Subjects who experienced frequent depressive symptoms were 1.4-times more likely to experience a rapid decline in kidney function during the follow-up than participants with infrequent depressive symptoms. These results allowed the research team to identify a significant association between those with depressive symptoms at the beginning of the study and rapid kidney decline in the follow up. 

“While our study does not show causality, it demonstrated that high depressive symptoms were significantly associated with rapid kidney decline among Chinese adults with normal kidney function,” Qin stated. “If further confirmed, our data provide some evidence for depressive symptom screening and effective psychosocial interventions to improve the prevention of CKD.” 

CKD is one of the leading risk factors for cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and overall mortality worldwide. The identification of a diagnosable and potentially modifiable risk factor such as depressive symptoms could enable improved early detection and possible prevention of CKD. This could in turn assist in alleviating the enormous burden caused by CKD.