Depressed MS-patients suffer debilitating symptoms earlier

November 08, 2019

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) who also have depression are more likely to suffer debilitating symptoms early than people with MS who are not depressed, according to a study at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden that is published in the journal Neurology. The findings highlight the need for early recognition and treatment of depressive symptoms in patients with MS.

More than 2 million people globally have MS, a disease that often impairs the ability to walk and move. It is well known that depression is a risk factor for MS and that depression is more common in people with MS, but it has thus far been uncertain if the mental illness can also be linked to the rate of MS progression.

In this study, the researchers compared the course of the disease in nearly 1,800 MS-patients who were depressed with that of some 7,900 MS-patients who were not depressed over a period of up to 13 years. They found that depressed MS-patients had an almost 90 percent higher risk of reaching a state where they needed a cane to walk 100 meters than those who were not depressed. This was also the case for those who were diagnosed with depression before their MS onset, which suggests that the MS disease in itself is not necessarily the cause of the depression, according to the researchers.

"We cannot with certainty determine the causality but it is interesting that the risk for disability worsening was higher also in people who were depressed already before they were diagnosed with MS," says Stefanie Binzer, researcher at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet and corresponding author.

The observed associations may be interpreted in several ways. For example, MS-patients with depression are more likely to smoke than non-depressed and are more inclined to neglect taking their medications. Depressed people are also less eager to exercise, and a lack of physical activity could lead to a more rapid deterioration. It is also possible that depression and MS have shared disease mechanisms that enhance each other. In that case, treatment of depression is a particularly important part of MS care. More research is needed to determine the causality between depression and MS worsening.

"Our study indicates that it may be very important to pay attention to depressive symptoms in people with MS and to begin treatment early," says Jan Hillert, professor at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet and another of the study's authors. "Further research is needed to examine whether antidepressant treatment has the potential to minimize MS disability."
-end-
The study was financed with the help of the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish Brain Foundation.

Publication: "Disability worsening among persons with multiple sclerosis and depression," Stefanie Binzer, Kyla McKay, Philip Brenner, Jan Hillert, Ali Manouchehrinia, Neurology, November 8, 2019, DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000008617

Karolinska Institutet

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.