Background  Behçet's disease (BD) is a chronic, episodic disease with an often devastating course. The aim of this study was to evaluate the depression and anxiety levels in patients with BD and to compare them with those in patients with psoriasis.

Methods  Patients were collected from the Dermatology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Gazi University, Ankara, Turkey. One hundred and twelve patients with BD and 95 patients with psoriasis were enrolled in the study. Patients were evaluated by Beck's depression inventory (BDI), Beck's anxiety inventory (BAI), automatic thoughts questionnaire (ATQ), and Beck's hopelessness scale (BHS).

Results  The group with BD had higher scores for BDI, BAI, ATQ, and BHS than the group with psoriasis (P < 0.05). Almost one-half of the patients with BD had depression. BAI only was higher in the younger BD group than in the corresponding psoriasis group, whereas all test scores were higher in the older BD group than in the corresponding psoriasis group. There was a strong correlation between the duration of BD and BDI, ATQ, and BHS scores, which was not observed in the psoriasis patients. BD increased the depression risk four-fold in this sample, and BD with a duration of over 3 years increased the depression risk 12-fold.

Conclusions  In the present study, BD patients had higher levels of psychopathology than did psoriasis patients in terms of psychologic test scores. The duration of illness affected the severity of the psychiatric symptoms in the BD group, but not in the psoriasis group. The duration of illness was a major risk factor for the development of depression in BD. These findings indicate the need for early recognition of psychiatric symptoms in patients with BD.