Background: Previous investigations have produced mixed findings on whether youth with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) experience elevated rates of depressive symptoms. Our first aim was to compare self-report of depressive symptoms by youth with IBD with a community sample. The second aim was to examine the relationship between symptoms of depression and measures of disease activity.
Methods: Item-level responses on the Children's Depression Inventory among a sample of 78 youth diagnosed with IBD were compared with responses from a community sample using 1-sample t-tests. Particular attention was given to items assessing somatic symptoms of depression given the potential overlap with IBD disease symptoms. The relationship between depressive symptoms and IBD disease activity was evaluated using Spearman's rank correlation coefficients and linear regression.
Results: Youth with IBD reported lower levels of depressive symptoms compared with the community sample on the Children's Depression Inventory Total Score, and similar or lower levels of difficulty on items assessing somatic symptoms. Most of the sample had inactive or mild disease activity at the time of participation, with 14% experiencing moderate/severe disease activity. Higher ratings of disease activity were related to greater depressive symptoms. Responses on somatic items from the Children's Depression Inventory were not differentially related to disease activity.
Conclusions: As a group, pediatric patients with IBD did not experience the clinical levels of depressive symptoms or elevations in depressive symptoms when compared with a community sample. Somatic symptoms of depression do not differentiate youth with IBD experiencing elevations in disease activity from youth experiencing nonsomatic symptoms of depression.