Depression in Children Suffering From Sickle Cell Anemia

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Sickle cell anemia is a chronic illness associated with important nonmedical complications. The prevalence of depression and its clinical profile among Congolese children suffering from sickle cell disease are unknown. We therefore conducted a cross-sectional study in children between 8 and 17 years. The main goal of this study was to describe prevalence and characteristics of depression in this population living in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo. The cross-sectional survey is of patients attending 2 referral centers. Children aged 8 to 17 years old were evaluated by a semistructured interview and standardized scales for depression separated by age and sex, the Multiscore Depression Inventory for Children. Completed questionnaires were received from 81 respondents. There were 43 girls and 38 boys. Depression symptoms were observed in 70 (86.4%) cases. Among this group, 6 children (8.6%) were observed to have severe depression. The most common symptoms were observed to be social introversion (81.5%), defiance (77.8%), helplessness (76.5%), and sad mood (70.4%). Of the 70 subjects, 19 (23.5%) had suicidal ideation. In Kinshasa, the prevalence of depression was high to those reported in western countries. Psychological interventions for individuals with sickle cell disease might complement current medical treatment in our midst.

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