Predictors of incident depression in systemic lupus erythematosus

Xiangyang Huang, Laurence S. Magder, Michelle Petri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. Findings from previous studies of predictors of depression among patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have been inconsistent. The aim of our study was to identify risk factors that preceded incident depression based on a large, closely followed longitudinal cohort. Methods. Data regarding 1609 patients with SLE in the Hopkins Lupus Cohort who had no history of depression prior to cohort entry were analyzed. Demographic variables, SLE manifestations, laboratory tests, physician's global assessment, Safety of Estrogens in Lupus Erythematosus National Assessment-SLE Disease Activity Index (SELENA-SLEDAI), cumulative organ damage (Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics/American College of Rheumatology Damage Index), and onset of depression were recorded at enrollment and each quarterly visit. Rates of incident depression were calculated overall, and in subgroups defined by demographic and clinical variables. Adjusted estimates of association were derived using pooled logistic regression. Results. The incidence of depression was 29.7 episodes per 1000 person-years. In the multivariable analysis, these variables remained as independent predictors of incident depression: recent SLE diagnosis, non-Asian ethnicity, disability, cutaneous activity, longitudinal myelitis, and current prednisone use of 20 mg/day or higher. Global disease activity (SELENA-SLEDAI) was not a significant predictor after controlling for prednisone use. Conclusion. Depression in SLE is multifactorial. Higher-dose prednisone (≥ 20 mg daily) is 1 important independent risk factor. Global disease activity is not a risk factor, but cutaneous activity and certain types of neurologic activity (myelitis) are predictive of depression. The independent effect of prednisone provides clinicians with an additional incentive to avoid and reduce high-dose prednisone exposure in SLE. The Journal of Rheumatology

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1823-1833
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Depression
  • Risk factors
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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