Women are effected twice as often as men
The lifetime prevalence of depression is 14%
In general younger people are effected
more than those over 65
However, older people with chronic illness
like lupus have a high rate of depression.
Depression effects people of many
backgrounds; rich and poor, famous and
every day people.
Feeling sad or down for more than two
Crying, feeling hopeless
Loss of interest in doing normal activities
Decreased appetite or weight loss
Feeling tired and lacking energy
In the US, it is estimated as many as 1.5
million people have lupus.
1.8 to 7.6 people per 100,000 are diagnosed
with lupus each year.
Most cases are diagnosed between age 15
Primarily women are affected (6-10 F:1 M)
African Americans (and possibly Latinos,
Asians and Native Americans) are affected
more than whites.
Lupus is an chronic disease.
It is autoimmune disease, its cause is not
Lupus patients frequently complain of
both memory problems and depression.
There is currently research being done to
look into why this is the case.
Skin rash and photosensitivity
Joint pain and swelling
Shortness of breath
Sores in the mouth
This is a description of memory problems
which is reported by 21-80% of lupus
› Another way of describing this is memory
problems that come and go.
› Cause is not known; may be due to medications
or lupus itself. There is research in this area.
Difficulty remembering things
Problems making decisions
Difficulty finding words
Talk to your doctor about these symptoms
so that the appropriate tests are done to
see why you are having this problem.
› Make yourself lists of what needs to be done so
you do not forget
› Keep a calendar of your events and
appointments to remind yourself.
› Use family members and friends to remind you of
Pain from the joints
Weight gain from medications such as
Medications make you feel sick or “crazy”
Change in how you look due to hair loss and
Feeling unable to do what you want to do
such as work or care for children/family
Frustration that a family member does not
understand or thinks you are lying about your
Having a chronic illness is a risk factor for
Some of the lupus medications can
cause depression, such as prednisone.
› If depression is thought to be due to
prednisone one option to decrease the
Talk with your doctor about how you are
Ask your doctor if she thinks further tests
are needed to see if lupus is causing your
Try to get psychiatric help with
counseling and medication as soon as
If you feel suicidal go to the emergency
Depression is common in patients with
You can talk with your doctor if you are
feeling sad or down; there is good
treatment for depression.
Your doctor wants to help you feel your
best. Don’t be embarrassed to talk with
your doctor about your feelings if you are
You can also ask your doctor to talk with
your family if this would help them to better
understand your condition and concerns.
Talk therapy with a mental health
Medications such as:
Keep your lupus in control by taking your
medications and seeing your
rheumatologist for regular check ups
and blood work.
Get enough sleep
Try to decrease stress in your life
Can lupus affect the brain? Yes.
What are symptoms?
› Psychosis (hearing things or seeing things
that are not there)
Yes, but the tests are not always
MRI will show brain lesions.
Two blood tests have been studied and
are thought to possibly be associated
with neuropsychiatric lupus: Antiribosomal P antibodies and NMDA
However, it possible to have negative
tests and have neuropsychiatric lupus.
Medications are strong and include:
› High dose prednisone
Depression and memory problems
(sometimes referred to as lupus fog) are
common in patients with lupus.
Reasons for depression in lupus patients are
multifactorial and may be due partly due to
the symptoms of lupus, as well as the
Lupus also can effect the brain itself.
The cause of memory problems is not well
understood and is undergoing further study.
There will be better days ahead.
Just because you have lupus does not
mean that you will develop depression
or problems with your brain.
Patients with lupus are leading happy
and successful lives now.
With advances in research the future will
be even brighter.
There is a lot being done to study lupus
currently and to improve treatment.
A listing of current trials can be found at:
Currently there are studies being done to
learn more using particularly using brain
imaging (MRI) and neuropsychiatric
Yasmin Santiago and the SLE Lupus
Urban Health Plan.
My colleagues at Montefiore including
Dr. Irene Blanco and Dr. Barbara
My colleagues at Hospital for Special
Surgery including Dr. Michael Lockshin
and Doruk Erkan.
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