Incontinence may lead to depression in younger women

June 20, 2013

Research from the University of Adelaide in Australia shows that younger women are more likely to suffer depression related to urinary incontinence than are older women.

Research from the University of Adelaide in Australia shows that younger women are more likely to suffer depression related to urinary incontinence than are older women.

In an effort to explore the additive effect of urinary incontinence in people with comorbid depression on health-related quality of life (QOL), the researchers interviewed 3010 South Australian men and women aged 15 to 95.

In clinical and population surveys, the prevalence of depression in people experiencing urinary incontinence varies from 20% to 40%, according to the researchers.

In this study, self-reported urinary incontinence was found in 20.3% (n=610), and depression in 15.2% (n=459) of the survey population. Urinary incontinence with comorbid depression was found in 4.3% of the overall population. Univariate analysis showed that respondents with urinary incontinence and comorbid depression were more likely to be aged between 15 and 34 and never married when compared to those with incontinence only. This did not surprise the researchers, since incontinence is more common in older women who have had children. In these younger women, they note, “there may not be an explanation for the condition, leading to a state of low mood and depression.”

Multivariate analysis demonstrated that in people with incontinence, the risk of having comorbid depression was increased by an overall health status of “fair” or “poor,” or the perception that their incontinence was moderately serious or very serious. Depression had a marked effect on QOL for the general population and a significant, additive effect on those with incontinence.

The researchers concluded that depression and urinary incontinence both reduce QOL, noting that “when they occur together, there appears to be an additive effect which affects both physical and mental health.” They recommend that clinicians “identify and manage comorbid depression when treating patients who have incontinence to improve their overall QOL.”

The study appeared in a recent issue of BMC Urology.