Women with a history of depression had an increased risk of developing systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) over a 20-year period compared with women without depression. These findings, reported in JAMA Psychiatry, suggest a history of depression is a strong predictor of SLE.1
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Adjustments made for health-related behaviors, including cigarette smoking, body mass index, oral contraceptive use, menopause or postmenopausal hormone use, alcohol use, exercise and diet only slightly attenuated these findings.
“Our study contributes to evidence that depression increases the risk for SLE and other autoimmune diseases,” says lead investigator Andrea Roberts, PhD, research scientist in the department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston. “We found many health-related behaviors, such as exercise, diet and smoking, did not explain most of the increased risk. We take this as evidence there may be direct biological effects of depression that increase the risk of autoimmune disease, for example, via inflammation.”