Depression and Scleroderma

Author: Janey Willis. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer.
With Autoimmunity
Personal Stories


Depression is a serious sadness that may or may not have a reason. For people with scleroderma or another chronic illness, depression is a natural reaction to the diagnosis, the symptoms, and changes in the quality of life. Unfortunately, depression can add to the physical problems presented by the disease; therefore, depression needs to be addressed and reduced as much as possible.

Teen Depression Treatment Is an Increasingly Thorny Issue. Treating mood disorders in children and adolescents is a tricky business and the most commonly prescribed antidepressants often don’t help. Time Healthland, 06/08/2016.

6 Ways Your Siblings Affect Your Health. Close sibling connections are frequently associated with lower levels of loneliness and depression, and higher levels of self-esteem. Time Healthland, 03/17/2016.

Am I Depressed? Resources to help you determine if you are depressed. Depression. VeryWell.

Nobody Understands! by Deborah A. Barrett, Ph.D.

Check All Adults for Depression, Especially New Moms, Panel Says. All adults should be regularly screened for depression, especially pregnant women and new mothers, government advisers said. NBC Health News, 01/26/2016.

Screen Depressed Teens for Heart Disease, Experts Say. Depression and bipolar disease can put teens at a significantly higher risk of heart disease, so adolescents with mood disorders need to get extra screening. NBC News, 08/10/2015.

Depression Can Double Risk for Stroke — Even When It’s Treated. Depressed people are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular death, and they’re also at greatly increased risk for strokes. Time Healthland, 05/13/2015.

How depression affects our sense of time. Time seems to pass extremely slowly or even stand still when a person suffers from depression, a study has found. Mail Online, 03/12/2015.

Depression and Stress Could Be 'Perfect Storm' for Heart Disease Patients. The combination of depression and stress may increase the chance of a patient dying of heart disease. Time Healthland, 03/10/2015. (Also see Stress)

Mother’s depression when kids are young linked to risky teen behaviors. Having a depressed mother during elementary or middle school raises the likelihood a child will engage in risky behaviors during the teen years. Reuters, 12/22/2014.

A Blood Test for Depression? Science Says It's Possible. In a recent study, scientists say it may be possible to test for depression in the blood – and figure out which patients will benefit most from behavior–based therapy as a treatment. Time Healthland, 09/15/2014.

Assessment of fatigue using the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). The Chinese MFI-20 is a valid and reliable instrument for the assessment of fatigue in MDD patients with residual symptoms. The construct of fatigue in MDD seems to be different from that in medical conditions. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 06/30/2014. (Also see Fatigue)

Women under 50 most likely to need help for depression: Two thirds of patients seeking treatment are female. Nearly two thirds of patients seeking treatment for depression are women, NHS figures show. Mail Online, 01/15/2014.

Sleep as a biomarker for depression. Research on sleep in depression has provided several valuable biomarkers that are related to increased risk for depression, show worsening during depressive episode, and are related to treatment outcome and relapse risk during remission phase. PubMed, Int Rev Psychiatry, 2013 Oct;25(5):632-45. (Also see Sleep Disorders and Illness)

Depression and Autoimmunity

Characterizing the phenotype of multiple sclerosis (MS)–associated depression in comparison with idiopathic major depression. The clinical phenotype of “idiopathic” major depressive disorder and MS–associated depression appears similar when adequately examined. PubMed, Mult Scler, 01/08/2016. (Also see Multiple Sclerosis)

More screening could help catch, treat depression in kids with diabetes. Symptoms of depression are common for kids with diabetes, but they often go undiagnosed or untreated, according to a U.S. study. Reuters Health, 10/22/2015. (Also see Support for Diabetes)

Illness perception in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients: The roles of alexithymia and depression. Studying the role of psychological factors, may contribute to a more comprehensive perspective of SLE, including their impact on patients' beliefs about treatment effectiveness and emotional adaptation to chronic disease. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 09/30/2015. (Also see Treatments for Lupus)

The association between diabetes and postpartum depression. Gestational diabetes was not associated with increased rates of depression although women with pre–pregnancy diabetes are more likely to experience postpartum depression. PubMed, Archives of Women's Mental Health, 07/21/2015. (Also see Support for Diabetes)

The Impact of Pain on Anxiety and Depression is Mediated by Objective and Subjective Sleep Characteristics in Fibromyalgia (FM) Patients. There is a high prevalence of sleep problems in individuals with FM, which may play a role in the relationship between pain and anxiety and depression. PubMed, Clin J Pain, 2014 Oct;30(10):852-9. (Also see Fibromyalgia)

Major Depression Diagnoses are Often Transient among Patients with Systemic Sclerosis (SSc): Baseline and 1-Month Follow-up. This study suggests that most patients with SSc who meet criteria for major depressive disorder appear to experience mild, time–limited episodes of low mood that often resolve on their own without specific treatment. PubMed, Arthritis Care Res, 2014 Aug 22. (Also see What is Scleroderma?)

Depression, anxiety, and quality of life in a large cohort of patients with rheumatic diseases: common, yet undertreated. For the management of depression and anxiety, an increased awareness among physicians dealing with rheumatologic patients is warranted in order to integrate detection and effective treatment of anxiety and depression into the routine clinical practice. PubMed, Clin Rheumatol, 2014 May 25. (Also see Rheumatic Diseases)

Psoriasis linked to worse quality of life for family members, too. Both psoriasis patients and the people who live with them say psoriasis negatively impacts their quality of life, and both groups tend to report more depression and anxiety than people not affected by the condition. Reuters Health, 06/06/2014. (Also see Psoriasis)

Inflammation may help explain depression, diabetes link. People with both depression and diabetes have higher markers of inflammation in their blood than those with diabetes alone, a new study suggests. Reuters Health, 06/06/2014. (Also see Diabetes)

Depression and pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA): Mediating role of illness perception. Targeting illness perceptions in adults with RA and depression may help reduce pain symptoms. ScienceDirect, The Egyptian Rheumatologist, April 2014. (Also see Rheumatoid Arthritis)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)-type symptoms in female patients with mild systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): frequency, related factors and quality of life. IBS-type symptoms are highly prevalent among women with SLE and are associated with fibromyalgia (FM) and depression. SLE+IBS patients had worse quality of life (HRQOL) vs Non-IBS SLE, independently of FM status. Treating IBS symptoms may improve HRQOL in women with SLE. PubMed, Neurogastroenterol Motil, 2013 Sep 25. (Also see Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Fibromyalgia)

Utility of the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) to Assess Suicide Risk in Patients With Systemic Sclerosis (SSc). The PHQ-8 may be a better option for assessment of depressive symptoms in patients with Ssc. Arthritis Care & Research, 2013 Apr 23.

Measuring Illness Behavior in Patients With Systemic Sclerosis (SSc). Illness behaviors among individuals with SSc are of clinical concern due to relationships between these behaviors and physical and mental quality of life, such as pain and symptoms of depression. ACR, 03/28/2013.

Depression Caused By Chronic Illness. Depression is one of the most common complications of chronic illness. It is estimated that up to one-third of individuals with a serious medical condition experience symptoms of depression. WebMD.


Light Therapy Might Work for Non-Seasonal Depression Too. A new study shows that people whose depression symptoms are not seasonal may also benefit from bright light therapy. Time Healthland, 11/18/2015.

New Approach to Depression. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a treatment in which magnetic pulses are used to stimulate parts of the brain believed to be involved in mood regulation. New York Times, 07/01/2013.

Diet and Depression


Antidepressants and alcohol: What happens if I drink alcohol? Mixing antidepressants and alcohol is discouraged. Mayo Clinic.


Sweetened beverages, coffee, and tea and depression risk among older US adults. Compared to nondrinkers, drinking coffee or tea without any sweetener was associated with a lower risk for depression. Adding artificial sweeteners was associated with higher risks. Frequent consumption of sweetened beverages, especially diet drinks, may increase depression risk among older adults, whereas coffee consumption may lower the risk. PubMed, PLoS One, 2014 Apr 17;9(4):e94715. (Also see Food Guide)

Healthy Diet

Sugar doesn’t just make you fat—it can also trigger depression, anxiety and stress. According to new research, too much sugar doesn't just lead to weight gain, but also depression, anxiety and stress. Mail Online, 11/20/2014.

Diet Is Associated With Risk of Depression. The study reinforces the hypothesis that a healthy diet has potential not only in the warding off of depression, but also in its prevention. Science Daily. 09/13/2013.

Personal Stories

Betty Fults: CREST Scleroderma I would like to talk with someone that has feeding tubes also. Maybe that will help me…

David B: Raynaud's I am fifty-one years old and suffer with Raynaud's, bipolar affective disorder, high anxiety and phobias for which I am unable to take medication…

Dawn M: Linear/Systemic Scleroderma My family and I were informed by the doctors, that the localized/linear form of scleroderma that I was diagnosed with, would never progress into the potentially fatal, systemic form…

Denise E: Diffuse Scleroderma I was first diagnosed with diffuse scleroderma in February 2002, but my symptoms began subtly in the summer of 2000…

Donna: CREST, Raynaud's, possible Fibromyalgia I was diagnosed with CREST (Limited Systemic Scleroderma) by a rheumatologist in 2006. This wasn't really a surprise to me as my mother was diagnosed with diffuse scleroderma in 1998…

Franchina: Systemic Sclerosis (Italy) I am sixty-one years old, and I discovered I had this illness eleven years ago. Most likely I had it two years before, but nobody understood what was wrong…

(Italiano) Franchina: Sclerosi Sistemica (Italia) Ho 61 anni, ho scoperto la mia malattia 11 anni fa ma sicuramente l'avevo gia 2 anni prima ma nessuno riusciva a capire niente…

Gail: Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease (UCTD) They found I had Interstitial Cystitis, a positive ANA, and gastrointestinal dysmotility…

Heather A: Scleroderma (South Africa) My fingers started to curl up and I could not wear any rings on my fingers anymore as they were so swollen…

Jaci: MCTD and Autoimmune Hepatitis Out of fear of going back to the doctors, I tried just to live with it, whatever it was. What I found strange was that nobody seemed to noticed how terrible I was feeling, not even the doctors…

Janet Q: UTCD or MCTD I also experienced new symptoms; joint pain, muscle aches, headaches, very painful carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands, back and neck pain, the list grew on and on…

Kym: Diffuse, CREST Scleroderma, Lupus and Fibromyalgia It all started with Raynaud's in my fingers and toes when I was about nineteen years old, in 1979…

Leslie R: Scleroderma, Vitiligo, Lupus, Anemia, Hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes He told me that I have scleroderma and explained what this disease is about. After suffering so long I finally got some answers…

Lucia: Scleroderma I was diagnosed with this illness in August of 2011. I am Colombian, 44 years old and have been a resident of the US for the past 6 years…

(Español/Spanish) Lucia: Esclerodermia Fui diagnosticada con esta enfermedad en agosto de 2011. Soy una mujer colombiana de 44 años y resido en los Estados Unidos desde hace 6…

Missy S: Lupus, Scleroderma, CREST and Depression They say I am not eligible for a medical card or disability. I have been fighting for four years…

Moroni: Husband with Systemic Sclerosis My husband was diagnosed with this illness two years ago. It all began with a cardiac arrhythmia. I took him to a cardiologist who performed an echocardiogram, where he realized that his heart had some damage…

(Español/Spanish) Moroni: Esposa de Paciente con Esclerosis Sistémica Mi esposo fue diagnosticado con esta enfermedad hace dos años, se le manifestó con una arritmia cardiaca, lo llevé a un cardiólogo y éste le realizó un ecocardiograma y se dio cuenta de que su corazón presentaba una restricción…

Nina: Fibromyalgia, Raynaud's, Limited Scleroderma/CREST That is when I found ISN! The volume of reliable, informative, trusted information that I found on this site completely overwhelmed me…

Rosebud: Diffuse Scleroderma My hands are the worst. They are completely swollen, red, itchy, with burning sensation and in pain constantly…

Rosemary F: Surviving Daughter of Diffuse Scleroderma Patient She tried to explain it, but it was hard for me to comprehend the disease's symptoms. Mom said that it was the same thing that her oldest sister died from…

Star S: Morphea and Systemic Scleroderma I was diagnosed with morphea at age seven. Now at age thirty-three, I have recently developed systemic scleroderma with gastrointestinal manifestations, Sjogren's syndrome, inflammatory arthritis, malabsorption…

Susie: CREST Syndrome I have had CREST syndrome for the past eight years. My specialist is Dr. Frederick Wigley, from Johns Hopkins…

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