Chronic illnesses increase the risk of depression and anxiety in children and teens. Children and teens with asthma often suffer from hayfever, food allergies or eczema as well as asthma. These illnesses affect the child’s quality of life and have been linked to depression.
Depression and anxiety disorders are twice as common in children and teens with asthma. Previous studies have shown that 16.3% of children and teens with asthma have some symptoms of depression or anxiety compared to 8.6 % of children or teens without asthma.
Obesity rates are higher in children with asthma. Obesity has also been linked to lower self esteem and depression.
Researchers wanted to know more about the relationship between asthma and depression.
Our Research Questions:
- Are children and teens with asthma at increased risk for depression?
- Is there a difference between having allergic asthma or non-allergic asthma when it comes to depressive symptoms?
- How does the child or teen’s weight affect the risk of depression with asthma?
- What is the relationship between allergic symptoms, asthma and depression?
- 431 SAGE study children were seen at 11-14 years of age.
- 1/3 of all children with asthma had some symptoms of depression or anxiety.
- ½ of all children with non-allergic asthma had symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Depressive symptoms were more frequently seen in girls, in First Nations children, and in children who were overweight.
Boys: Having allergic asthma or non-allergic asthma did not affect the rate of depressive symptoms in boys. Neither did their weight status.
First Nations boys, however, did have an increased risk of depression.
Girls: 3 factors increased the risk of depressive symptoms for girls in this study:
· Having non-allergic asthma
· Being overweight
· Ethnicity (First Nations)
Girls with non-allergic asthma were more likely have symptoms of depression even if they weren’t overweight.
Having allergic asthma or other allergies (hay fever, eczema or food allergies) did NOT increase the rate of depressive symptoms.
These findings were surprising as researchers expected to see more depression in children with eczema, hay fever or other allergies.
Researchers believe that the hormone Leptin may be a key factor connecting depression, weight and asthma. Increased Leptin levels in children have been associated with non-allergic asthma (for girls), weight and depression. More research needs to be done to better understand the effects of Leptin on the body.
This study did not look at how depressive symptoms change as the children age. It would be helpful to look at how depressive symptoms of children with and without asthma change over a longer period of time.
- It is important for doctors and educators to assess the existence of other illnesses, including depression, when assessing asthma.
- Non-allergic asthma is a risk factor for depression in girls. So is being overweight.
- Recognizing and treating depression will help improve a child’s asthma control and quality of life.
Depression is more common in girls with non-atopic asthma. Bahreinian S, Ball G, Colman I, Becker A, Kozyrskyj A. Chest. 2011 April 7