Signs of Depression in Patients with aHUS
The potentially life-threatening symptom flares that sometimes result from the rare genetic disease atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) can be very difficult to deal with emotionally.
A global poll of people with aHUS in 2016 indicated that 27% of patients who had undergone dialysis had anxiety and depression. Thus, it’s important for caregivers, friends, and family to be aware that some aHUS patients might benefit from psychological care.
aHUS is characterized by the formation of blood clots in the small blood vessels of the kidneys, which leads to hemolytic anemia — destruction of red blood cells — thrombocytopenia, or low platelet counts, and in more serious cases, kidney failure.
Although aHUS is a genetic disease, the symptoms are often triggered by environmental factors such as infections, cancer, pregnancy, allergy-causing agents such as fur and pollen, and certain medications. These factors can trigger symptom flares.
Here are some signs to watch out for that can potentially indicate that a person is suffering from depression.
Low physical activity
Watch out for signs of reduced physical activity or reluctance in performing day-to-day tasks. An active lifestyle is needed in order to effectively manage the stress associated with aHUS. If the individual prefers resting over any activity almost all the time, this could be an early indicator of depression.
Increased irritability and reckless behavior
An increased propensity to get agitated even over casual things can be a sign of depression. A low tolerance can cause increased irritability and restlessness, which in turn, can lead to reckless behaviors. This can include reckless driving, which can cause harm to one’s self and to others.
Low productivity at work
Low productivity and loss of concentration at work can be a sign of depression. If you or a colleague have aHUS, inform the human resources department at your office or place of employment so that necessary accommodations can be made. Some options include reduced work hours, shift changes, or work from home opportunities.
Loss of appetite and sleep
Depression can lead to the loss of appetite and sleep. If you notice that you or someone you know who has aHUS loses or gains more than 5% of body weight in a month, consult a doctor immediately, as that could indicate depression. Also, monitor for changes in sleep patterns, such as early waking or oversleeping.
Increased dependence on smoking and alcohol
Excessive smoking and alcohol intake are common behavioral symptoms of depression. Increased alcohol consumption can have negative consequences, such as worsening of depression symptoms, violent behavior, and liver and heart problems.
Reduced therapy compliance
Patients with depression may be reluctant to continue the prescribed therapy for their condition, which can further worsen symptoms.
Sometimes depression can be so severe that it can lead to a feeling of despair and hopelessness. This can result in a tendency to hurt oneself or even commit suicide. If you find that a person with aHUS is often talking pessimistically, consult a psychiatrist or psychologist without delay.
Last updated: Jan. 17, 2020
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