Lupus, Depression, and Children

I don’t write much about children and lupus. Oh, it’s not because I don’t like children or don’t know that they can have lupus just like adults. I don’t write much about lupus and children for the simple reason that there is less information about this subject, there are fewer studies being conducted on this subject, and much less news about children and lupus.

If you are a parent of a child with lupus this probably makes you angry, and it should. Children with lupus have more complications than adults with lupus, more severe symptoms, and parents who worry more than the child.

If you’re an Alaskan Native, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, African American, Native American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander this blog is both good and bad news. It’s bad news because you know that you and your children are at a greater risk for developing lupus than the general population. It’s great news because your children with lupus were recently the subject of a study done regarding them and depression and anxiety.

Are children who have lupus depressed and anxious more than the general population?depression minority child

A new study conducted at Center for Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has shown this to be true in minority children with lupus.

Lupus affects 1 in every 185 Americans but Lupus is known to be more common in Alaskan Natives, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian, African Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. This fact needs to be considered when looking at many aspects of lupus.

This study revealed that compared to the normal population, children with lupus experienced more suicidal thoughts but had less access to mental health care and also had less visits to primary care physicians than their counterparts without lupus.

The results shed new light on the under-recognition and under-treatment of children with lupus as well as disparities among healthcare with regards to race. It also opens dialogue that will hopefully lead to improvement in mental health intervention for these patients at risk. While this is a good thing, appropriate treatment for youth with depression is still an ongoing debate.

Childhood-onset lupus primarily affects females in their adolescent years which happens to be the , the highest period of the life-span for onset of depression and anxiety among.Suffering from a chronic condition is a well-known risk factor for anxiety and depression but is can present additional factors for youth. Young patients with lupus are less likely to understand the disease, the life-changing effects of the disease,  and also have less say in their own treatments – all factors leading to depression and anxiety.

Dr. Knight, one of the researchers said in a news release,“Families of children with lupus will benefit from increased awareness that depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are common in this condition. Hopefully patients and their families will feel more comfortable talking about symptoms of these mental health conditions. They should feel empowered to seek help from their rheumatology and primary care doctors, as there are several options for treatment of depression and anxiety. Early mental health care for youth with lupus is important, because persistent depression and anxiety in adults with lupus has been linked to poorer disease control, quality of life and work functioning.”

The researchers hope to conduct additional, larger studies.


From the news and the life of Wanda M. Argersinger

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