High rates of depression are found among hospitalized patients with congestive heart failure. Little is known about the outcome of depression in these patients or factors that influence that outcome.
To assess baseline patient characteristics as predictors of time to remission in depressed inpatients with congestive heart failure, consecutive patients older than 50 years admitted with congestive heart failure were screened for major and minor depression using a structured clinical interview. Patients with minor depression were reevaluated at 6 and 12 weeks, and those with major depression at 6, 12, 18, and 24 weeks using the Longitudinal Interview Follow-up Evaluation.
Of a total of 473 depressed patients, 404 (247 with minor depression and 157 with major depression) were identified and followed up. Patients with minor depression were followed up for an average of 11.3 weeks, during which 64.0% went into remission; those with major depression were followed up for 20.2 weeks, during which 47.8% went into remission. Baseline predictors of shorter time to remission for minor depression were less severe depression (hazard ratio [HR], 0.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.92-0.98) and fewer comorbid illnesses (HR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.87-0.98); patients who were younger and had better physical functioning and those not treated with antidepressants also tended to go into remission faster. For major depression, less severe depression was the primary predictor (HR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.88-0.96), although patients who were younger, male, without a history of depression, and with fewer comorbid medical disorders also tended to go into remission faster. Fewer than 50% of patients with major depression received treatment, and only 12% had psychiatric consultations.
The outcome of minor depression may be more dependent on physical stressors, whereas major depression seems more affected by intrinsic vulnerability. Many patients with major depression were not treated, and few had psychiatric consultations.