Among people suffering from chronic cough, more than half have symptoms of
depression, new research shows. The good news is that the depression seems to
lift as the cough improves.
Cough is the most common reason people in the US seek medical attention, and
several reports have shown that chronic cough can have a significant impact on
quality of life, according to Dr. Peter V. Dicpinigaitis, from the Montefiore
Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, and colleagues.
The team used a standard depression scale called CES-D, in which scores of 16
or greater indicate significant depressive symptoms, to evaluate100 patients who
were seen at an academic medical center because of chronic cough.
Reporting in the medical journal Chest, the researchers found that 53 percent
of the subjects had significant depressive symptoms and the average CES-D score
The CES-D was administered again after three months, and results showed that
the average score had dropped to 7.4, which coincided with a significant
improvement in the average subjective cough score. Further analysis confirmed a
significant correlation between the cough and depression scores.
Dicpinigaitis’ team suggests that doctors keep an eye out for depression in
people who have chronic cough, and that they should “exercise judgment in
deciding whether appropriate mental health referral is necessary, regardless of
the outcome of treatment for chronic cough.”