Dr. Kyla McKay said the study of more than 1,200 patients found no link between anxiety or bipolar disorder and increased disability, however.
She presented the findings at the 7th Joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS Meeting in Paris, which started Oct. 25 and runs through Oct. 28.
Psychiatric problems are common in MS. While plenty of research has focused on whether physical illnesses can increase MS patients’ disability, few studies have looked at whether psychiatric conditions can do so.
The Canadian team decided to check for such a link. Their study was titled “Association between psychiatric comorbidity and disability progression of multiple sclerosis.”
They combed through healthcare databases in British Columbia, Canada’s third most populous province, to identify 1,250 MS patients. Three-fourths were women. Ninety-four percent had the relapsing form of MS when diagnosed.
The team used information on physician and hospital visits ranging from two years before a patient’s MS diagnosis to the end of their MS treatment to identify those with depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. The average length of treatment was nine years.
It turned out that about half the patients — or 49 percent — had a psychiatric disorder.
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