Physical Inactivity Strongly Tied to Depression in Lupus
New research finds a sedentary lifestyle is associated with a greater than three-fold risk of depression among people with lupus. What’s more, physical inactivity was found to be a stronger independent risk factor for depression than poverty-level income, racial-ethnic minority status, lupus disease activity or co-occurring illnesses.
The researchers studied a racially and ethnically diverse group of more than 200 people with lupus. At baseline, nearly one in five participants (18%) reported rarely or never doing any physical activities and were considered sedentary. Of the inactive participants, 38% developed depression at some point during the roughly two-year follow-up period compared to just 14% of the other non-sedentary people. Depression was measured by a validated patient health questionnaire, which highly corresponds with clinical diagnosis of depressive disorders. Other factors like poverty-level income, male sex, white race, heart disease and higher lupus disease activity were also associated with increased risk of depression.
While exercise has been shown to improve symptoms of depression, this is the first study to explore whether a sedentary lifestyle may promote depression in people with lupus. People with lupus may be more vulnerable to depression, and these findings stress the importance of physical activity to support mental well-being. Learn about exercising with lupus.