Between 1958 and 1961, the drug Thalidomide was prescribed in the UK as a treatment for morning sickness. It caused severe birth defects. Thalidomide survivors are now experiencing a range of secondary health problems, including depression and anxiety. Internationally, it is estimated that 40% to 50% of Thalidomide survivors have recently experienced common mental health problems. The aim of this study was to gather information about the pattern of symptoms of depression and anxiety amongst UK Thalidomide survivors. A cross-sectional postal survey of 182 UK Thalidomide survivors, which used Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and General Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD-7) to measure self-reported depression and anxiety, was conducted. Data were first analysed using descriptive statistics. A point-biserial correlation was used to examine whether being unable to work was associated with higher depression and anxiety scores. Prevalence of all levels of depression and anxiety was higher amongst the Thalidomide survivors than the general UK population but broadly similar to other groups of adults with disabling conditions. Being unable to work was associated with higher depression and anxiety scores. More research is needed to understand the relationship between early acquired physical disability and depression, in particular the implications, over the life course, of secondary health problems and changing social roles.
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