A team of researchers set out to answer this in a study, “Parathyroidectomy, elevated depression scores, and suicidal ideation in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism: results of a prospective multicenter study.” The study was published online ahead of print in October 2012 in Archives of Surgery.
The researchers were interested in depressive symptoms, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in people with pHPT both before and after parathyroidectomy. They compared data on 194 patients with pHPT against data on 186 members of a control group. Patients’ level of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts were measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9. Additionally, participants’ HRQoL was assessed using the 36-Item Short Form survey instrument.
The results showed that prior to the operations, severe depression was seen in 20% of patients with pHPT, compared to only 9% of the control group. Moderate to severe levels of depression were seen in 17% of people with pHPT and 7% of people in the control group. Additionally, the pHPT group showed higher mean anxiety scores and lower physical and mental health scores than the control participants.
However, the operations resulted in a 98% cure rate, and a year after the procedures, levels of depression and anxiety had decreased in patients with pHPT. Additionally, suicidal thoughts decreased more than half from the baseline levels, and the HRQoL scores improved in patients with pHPT.
The study authors argue that their findings demonstrate an association between pHPT and depression, lowered HRQoL, and anxiety. However, a successful parathyroidectomy may help these patients improve their HRQoL and reduce depression and anxiety.