Depression and Anxiety Worsen Asthma in Preteens, Adolescents

Article excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pre-teens and adolescents with asthma who were also depressed or anxious had asthma symptoms on significantly more days and were more prone to individual symptoms, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies.

Based on these findings, the investigators urged physicians to screen for anxiety and depressive disorders when young people have asthma symptoms that do not respond to medication.

"We conclude that youth with asthma and depressive disorders do have a higher symptom burden, and providers should consider screening for depression in youth with high symptom burden if they are not responding to medication or treatment as expected," Dr. Laura Richardson said in a poster presentation.

The researchers surveyed by telephone 767 young people, 11-17 years of age, who had asthma and were enrolled in a staff-model health maintenance organization to assess the number of days of asthma symptoms each participant had experienced in the 2 weeks prior to a call and the incidence of individual symptoms.

A total of 125 respondents (16%) were found to have anxiety or depressive disorders, while 642 did not (84%). Nearly two-thirds of the depressed youth but fewer than half of the other respondents were female. Both groups were 14 years old on average, reported Dr. Richardson, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Similar proportions of both groups met Health Plan Employer Data Information Set (HEDIS) asthma severity criteria: 69% of the depressed group and 70% of those who were not depressed. The depressed patients had higher Chronic Disease Scores, however (795 vs. …