Thalassemia is a condition that causes the human body to destroy red blood cells faster than they can be made. It causes physical symptomology as well as psychological distress. The current study aimed to identify the prevalence of depression symptoms among individuals with moderate to severe thalassemia. A quantitative descriptive cross-sectional design was applied utilizing the Beck Depression Inventory to assess the level of depression in the sample.
Some significant relationships were demonstrated in the sample: males reporting severe depression symptoms than females by 6.0 times (95% CI 0.07–0.62, p 0.014), and reporting moderate depression symptoms (95% CI 0.00–0.47, p 0.05). Additionally, income was found to be a predictor of level of depression symptoms with low income reported higher incidence of severe depression symptoms than those whose monthly income was > 400$ by 18.4 times (95% CI 0.38–1.03, p ≤ 0.001), but not reporting a significant association between moderate depressive symptoms and monthly income (95% CI − 012–1.47, P 0.225). A significant association was found between the educational attainment and level of depression symptoms with lower levels of education predicting higher levels of severe depression symptoms (95% CI 0.069–0.89, p 0.022), but no significant association was reported between moderate depression symptoms and educational attainment (95% CI − 0.49–0.01, p 0.81).
Related to disease characteristics a relationship was confirmed between severe depressive symptoms and medication level such as the individual needing tablets or pumps (95% CI 0.189–1.05, p 0.005 and 95% CI 0.52–1.44, p 0.001) respectively. Other disease related variables showed no significant correlation with depressive symptom levels.
Additional significant relationships were found in environment whereas increased moderate depressive symptoms were experienced by individuals residing in rural areas as opposed to those living in IDP camps or cities by 4 times (95% CI − 0.30–0.01, p 0.04), but no significant association was found between severe depression and the place of residence. The other independent variables had no significant correlation with severe or moderate depressive symptoms.
In light of these findings addressing symptoms of depression directly and supporting patients with thalassemia with basic life needs unrelated to their disease maybe mitigating depressive symptoms which may negatively affect recovery.