Psychiatric Symptoms and Quality of Life in Systemic Sclerosis

G Mura1, Krishna M Bhat2, A Pisano1, G Licci1, MG Carta1, *
1 Consultation Liaison Psychiatric Unit at the University Hospital of Cagliari, University of Cagliari and AOU. Cagliari - Italy
2 Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, USA

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© Mura et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Liaison Psychitric Unit, University of Cagliari and AUO Cagliari, Itali; Tel: +39 070 272748; Fax: +39 070 6093498; E-mail:



Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a rare conjunctive tissue disorder characterized by fibrosis of the skin and internal organs, and vascular obliteration phenomena. Patients with SSc often experience elevated symptoms of psychological distress, determined by the disfiguration, the pain, the fatigue sensation, and the difficult in daily life occupations. The characteristics of the disease may influence the perceived quality of life (QoL) in people with SSc.


This is a narrative review aiming to define the amount of impairment of Quality of Life in patients with Systemic Sclerosis and the component of this impairment due to depressive or other psychiatric symptoms. The search of the significant articles was carried out in PubMed for the key words “Psychiatric symptoms and Systemic Sclerosis”; “Quality of life and Systemic Sclerosis”; “Depressive Disorders and Systemic Sclerosis”.


Psychiatric symptoms are frequents in patients with SSc, but pain, fatigue, disability, body changes don’t appear to explain the high prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity in SSc. Many studies founded a significant impairment in SSc patients’ QoL, and despite the undeniable correlation between physical symptoms and SSc patients’ QoL, mental health was found significantly impaired.


The high rate of depression seems to strictly correlate with poor quality of life, and this finding needs more research to establish the cause of such a correlation. Patients’ point of view regarding their health-related QoL could help physicians to enlarge the knowledge about physical and mental correlates of the disease, and to fit therapies as patient required. Particular attention must be given to provide the patient with correct information, in order to mitigate the anxious state on disease course, and to enhance coping skills of the patients.

Keywords: Systemic sclerosis, psychiatric symptoms, depressive disorder, quality of life.