Fatigue, limited mobility, and poor self-esteem or resiliency were found to be associated with periods of serious depression among multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, according to a recent study.
The study, titled “Determinants and incidence of depression in multiple sclerosis: A prospective cohort study,” was published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research.
Previous research has suggested that MS patients are at risk of major depression, with potentially profound impact on their quality of life. But only a few studies have addressed the incidence of depression among MS patients or the risk factors that may underlie its occurrence.
Researchers in Canada enrolled 188 MS patients being treated an Alberta clinic, who were interviewed to assess potential risk factors for depression: namely, socioeconomic status, disease-related factors, childhood risk factors, psychosocial factors, and health behaviors. Participants were also asked to complete the Patient Health Questionnaire every two weeks for six months to identify depressive symptoms in real-time.
Over a six-month follow-up, 36 cases of depression were reported among the group of MS patients analyzed. The incidence of depression was 0.019 for women, but higher — 0.044 — for men.
Importantly, several factors seemed to be associated with depression in these patients — fatigue, limited mobility, and low resiliency, self-esteem, and self-efficacy, as well as poor coping skills. Results also showed that gender and income were associated with depression.
Overall, the researchers concluded that “depression in MS exhibits a risk factor profile similar to that of depression in the general population, with the additional impact of MS illness-related factors. Potentially modifiable risk factors, such as coping with stress and resiliency, present opportunities for focus of further research in depression in MS treatment and prevention efforts.”
Concerning treatment, the team also emphasized that “while there is evidence in the clinical context that supports the efficacy for pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatments for depression in the general population, there is currently insufficient evidence to support/or refute the efficacy of depression treatment for individuals with MS … Clearly this is an area that requires additional research.”
People with multiple sclerosis who feel stigmatized because of their condition are more likely to have depression, research presented at the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers Annual Meeting showed.
The Pennsylvania State University research team said the impact of the stigma can be eased by lots of social support, a sense of belonging, and a sense of independence.
Their study was based on information from the semiannual survey of the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis, which covered 5,413 people with MS. The presentation was titled “The Contribution of Stigma to Depression Symptoms and Depression Status Among Individuals Living with Multiple Sclerosis.”