#CMSC16 – Researchers Present Findings Showing Women with MS Have Significant Depression, Fatigue, Decline in Cognitive Function

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Depression, fatigue, decline in cognitive function in women with MS

Researchers at the University of Arizona studied the psychosocial symptoms felt by a group of female patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) from the southwestern United States, and found significant relationships between depression, fatigue, and cognitive decline — symptoms also related with poorer quality of life and reduced mental and physical health.

The findings suggested that education of healthcare providers about these symptoms may improve MS care, and patients may benefit from self-help intervention programs.

The abstract, titled “Depression, Fatigue, Declines in Cognitive Function, and Uncertainty and Quality of Life Outcomes in Women with Multiple Sclerosis,” was recently presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC), as part of a session named Psychosocial: Cognition, Depression.

The study included data from more than 200 female MS patients, and the main objectives were the assessment of a possible relationship between depression, fatigue and cognitive decline, and how these symptoms and other factors, such as uncertainty and self-management, influence the quality of life of this particular patient population.

According to the findings, researchers observed significant correlations between depression and fatigue, depression and cognitive function decline, and fatigue and declines in cognitive function. These three symptoms were all found to be significantly related to uncertainty and associated with reduced physical and mental health. Also, depression, fatigue, and decline in cognitive function were found to be significantly associated with a poorer quality of life in female patients.

Researchers stated that such findings point to the existence of a symptom cluster in MS of depression, fatigue, and cognitive function decline and recommended establishing an intervention aimed at educating health providers for the three symptoms.

The research team also suggested that MS patients might benefit from the development of a self-help program. “A research study including a larger population of women with MS located throughout the United States, and not just the southwest, is necessary before any education aimed at health-care professionals or individuals with MS is developed or implemented,” the researchers concluded.

MS is an autoimmune disease characterized by chronic damage in the central nervous system. It is the most prevalent neurologic disease among young and middle-aged adults and, although it does not always negatively affect life expectancy, it is associated with healthcare costs of $10 billion annually.

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