News Release

Depressive symptoms linked to rapid kidney function decline

Finding comes from a study of adults with normal kidney function

Peer-Reviewed Publication

American Society of Nephrology


  • Among individuals with healthy kidneys, those with more frequent depressive symptoms were more likely to show signs of rapid kidney function decline over a median follow-up of 4 years.

Washington, DC (May 28, 2021) -- In a study of adults with normal kidney function, those who had frequent depressive symptoms were more likely to later experience a rapid decline in kidney function. The study will appear in an upcoming issue of CJASN.

Depression is a common condition in middle-aged and older adults, and it can contribute to a variety of mental and physical problems. Previous research has found a link between depressive symptoms and rapid kidney function decline in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). To look for a potential link in adults with normal kidney function as well, a team led by Xianhui Qin, MD (Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, in China) examined information on 4,763 individuals with healthy kidneys when they enrolled in the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS).

At the start of the study, 39% of participants had high depressive symptoms, and during a median follow-up of 4 years, 260 (6%) participants experienced rapid kidney function decline. There was a significant association between depressive symptoms at the start of the study and rapid decline in kidney function during follow-up. Participants with frequent depressive symptoms were 1.4-times more likely to experience rapid kidney function decline than participants with infrequent depressive symptoms, after adjustments.

"CKD is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and mortality worldwide. Therefore, the identification of more modifiable risk factors may possibly reduce the huge burden of CKD and its related complications by leading to early detection and prevention," said Dr. Qin. "While our study does not show causality, it demonstrated that high depressive symptoms were significantly associated with rapid decline in kidney function among Chinese adults with normal kidney function. If further confirmed, our data provide some evidence for depressive symptom screening and effective psychosocial interventions to improve the prevention of CKD."

An accompanying Pantiet Voice article provides the perspective of a two-time kidney transplant recipient with an American-Born Chinese background.


Study co-authors include Zhuxian Zhang, MD, Panpan He, MD, Mengyi Liu, MD, Chun Zhou, MD, Chengzhang Liu, MS, Huan Li, MD, Yuanyuan Zhang, MD, Qinqin Li, MD, Ziliang Ye, MD, Qimeng Wu, MD, Guobao Wang, MD, and Min Liang, MD.

Disclosures: Dr. Xianhui Qin reports grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China. No other disclosures were reported.

The article, titled "Association of Depressive Symptoms with Rapid Kidney Function Decline in Adults with Normal Kidney Function," will appear online at on May 28, 2021, doi: 10.2215/CJN.18441120.

The Patient Voice, titled "Depressive Symptoms and Rapid Kidney Function Decline," will appear online at on May 28, 2021, doi: 10.2215/CJN.04050321.

The content of this article does not reflect the views or opinions of The American Society of Nephrology (ASN). Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author(s). ASN does not offer medical advice. All content in ASN publications is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions, or adverse effects. This content should not be used during a medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider if you have any questions about a medical condition, or before taking any drug, changing your diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment. Do not ignore or delay obtaining professional medical advice because of information accessed through ASN. Call 911 or your doctor for all medical emergencies.

Since 1966, ASN has been leading the fight to prevent, treat, and cure kidney diseases throughout the world by educating health professionals and scientists, advancing research and innovation, communicating new knowledge, and advocating for the highest quality care for patients. ASN has more than 21,000 members representing 131 countries. For more information, visit

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.