Quarterly scientific journal

Factors associated with psychiatric disorders that experience individuals with thalassemia

Ioannis Koutelekos


Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder characterized by anomalies in the synthesis of the beta chains of hemoglobin resulting in variable health problems. The chronicity and the nature of the disease impose significant limitations on individuals' life and as a result they frequently experience anxiety and depression. Aim: The aim of the present study was to review the literature about factors associated with psychiatric disorders that experience patients with thalassemia. Method: The method of this study included bibliographic research of the literature from reviews and researches, mainly in the PubMed data base, which referred to the factors associated with psychiatric disorders in patients with thalassaemia. PubMed was searched using the following key search terms: "anxiety", "depression", "thalassaemia" while the research covered the period 1996-2011. Results: Though the developments in the treatment and prognosis of thalassemia have dramatically altered the approach to the care of patients, however the psychological aspects of the disease have received little attention since the number of relevant studies are generally limited. According to the literature, patients with thalassemia frequently experience psychiatric disorders (anxiety and depression) due to various reasons, out of which the main are the chronicity of disease, the disease complications, the financial, social and personal problems, the lack of family and social support, the change in body image and the reduction of self-esteem level. Symptoms of anxiety and depression may influence negatively the outcome of the disease including low adherence to treatment, increased morbidity and poor quality of life. Conclusions: A regular screening for anxiety and depression symptoms and identification of individuals at high risk should be an integral part of medical therapy. Early screening implies early treatment and provides valuable information for the planning of intervention programs that have as an ultimate goal to improve emotional and physical health of patients with thalassemia.

Keywords: Thalassemia, anxiety, depression

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