• Depression;
  • survival;
  • transplant psychology

Although it is well known that depression is associated with poorer medical outcomes, the association between depression- and liver transplant (LTX)-specific outcomes has not been investigated. We identified three trajectories of depressive symptoms evolving within the first post-LTX year in a cohort of 167 patients transplanted for alcoholic cirrhosis: a group with consistently low depression levels at all time points (group 1, n = 95), a group with initially low depression levels that rose over time (group 2, n = 41), and a group with consistently high depression levels (group 3, n = 31). Controlling for medical factors associated with poorer survival, recipients with increasing depression or persisting depression were more than twice as likely to die (all cause mortality) within the subsequent years. At 10 years post-LTX the survival rate was 66% for the low depression group, but only 46% and 43%, respectively, for the increasing depression and high depression groups. Except for a paradoxically higher percentage of malignancies in the low depression group, the causes of death and other specific LTX outcomes were not different between groups. Whether treatment of depression will improve survival rates is an area for research.