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Heart Lung. 2003 Mar-Apr;32(2):105-10.

Depression and anxiety in adults with congenital heart disease: a pilot study.

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Children's Hospital Boston & Harvard Medical School, Departments of Psychiatry and Cardiology, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



To examine the presence of depression and anxiety in adults with congenital heart disease and the association of medical severity with depression and anxiety.


Prospective, pilot study.


An adult outpatient cardiology clinic in university-affiliated children's hospital in Northeast.


Twenty-two adult patients with congenital heart disease followed in an adult cardiology clinic. Patients were selected who had no evidence of emotional or behavioral difficulties, (ie, no symptoms of depression or anxiety). Outcome Measures Standardized semi-structured psychiatric interview with structured checklist eliciting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) diagnostic criteria for depressive and anxiety disorders, Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), and the Cardiologist's Perception of Medical Severity scale.


Among patients who had been assumed to be "well adjusted," 36.4% were experiencing a diagnosable psychiatric disorder, with anxiety or depressive symptoms being prominent. There were 6 patients (27.3%) who had BSI scores above 63 indicating pathological emotional functioning. There was significant convergent validity between the clinical diagnoses of depression and anxiety using both diagnostic interviews to identify DSM-IV diagnostic conditions and the BSI. There were significant associations between patient's medical severity scores and with the DSM-IV diagnosis of depression and the BSI global index score and depression subscale.


This pilot study raises important concerns about the emotional functioning of many adults facing congenital heart disease, particularly those with complex lesions. From a clinical perspective, this work suggests that health care professionals should be alert for emotional difficulties and the possible need for psychological intervention for adult survivors of congenital heart disease even among those that are seemingly emotionally well adjusted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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