Increasing evidence implicates psychosocial factors including depression, anxiety, perceived social support and health-related quality of life in the pathophysiology of various chronic diseases. Research examining the psychosocial aspects of kidney disease has focussed predominantly on depressive disorders in dialysis patients where they are independently associated with increased risk of mortality and poor health-related quality of life. In contrast, studies examining the influence of psychosocial factors in people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) prior to the initiation of renal replacement therapy are sparse. Limited data indicate that clinical depression and depressive symptoms are common and may independently predict progression to dialysis, hospitalization and death. In contrast, the influence of anxiety disorders, lower perceived social support and impaired health-related quality of life on the clinical course of CKD have received little attention. Large-scale prospective cohort studies are needed to clarify the burden and prognostic impact of these factors in this vulnerable population. Given the escalating burden of CKD worldwide examining the role of these potentially modifiable risk factors is crucial. Identifying and implementing targeted interventions in order to prevent or delay the progression of CKD and improve quality of life will be a major challenge.