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People living with vitiligo experience high rates of depression. These rates are higher in Asians and females.

People living with vitiligo have visible changes in their skin pigmentation. A study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology & Venereology aimed to provide a pooled estimate of the rates and odds of depression in patients with vitiligo. Data was gathered using a systematic literature search of various medical databases. In controlled studies, depression in vitiligo patients was compared with depression in healthy controls using odds ratio and standardized mean differences.

Depression Symptom Rates Varied Among Rating and Classification Scales

From 20 eligible cohorts, 1965 patients were identified for inclusion in the meta-analysis review, with sample sizes ranging from 30 to 308 for each analysis. The prevalence of depression was 29% across 17 unique populations. The prevalence of clinical depression was 8% using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) IV or International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes-10. Validated screening inventory and rating scales showed a prevalence of depressive symptoms of 33%. Compared with other questionnaires, for cases in which the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) questionnaire was used, a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms (56%) and lower heterogeneity was observed. This indicates that the HDRS questionnaire might be the most sensitive tool for detecting depressive symptoms in  vitiligo patients.

Depression Rates Were Higher in Asian and Female Patients With Vitiligo

This review found that depression is high in patients with vitiligo. People with vitiligo were 4.96 times more likely to experience symptoms of depression than controls. Analysis of subgroups revealed significantly higher rates of depression in Asian and female patients with vitiligo compared to Caucasian and male patients. 


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Wang, G., Qiu, D., Yang, H., & Liu, W. (2018). The prevalence and odds of depression in patients with vitiligo: a meta-analysis. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol, 32(8), 1343-1351. https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.14739