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Psychiatric Support Warranted in MS Patients

November 4, 2015

A recent study published in the journal Neurology determined that multiple sclerosis has a nonspecific effect on psychiatric morbidity, increasing the risk for all psychiatric disorders. “From a policy perspective, this implies the need for general psychiatric support rather than illness-specific strategies”, say researcher Ruth Ann Marrie (University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada).

The results showed that the incidence and prevalence of anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia were higher in a group of 44,452 MS patients than in 200,849 healthy individuals, measured from 1995-2005. The incidence of depression was 71% higher in the MS population and the prevalence 79%.

The researchers report that the incidence of all psychiatric comorbidities was stable over time, with the exception of a decline in schizophrenia, while prevalence increased slightly. “Prevalence may increase despite stable incidence because of earlier diagnosis or improving survival”, notes the team.

“We also assumed that our incident cases became prevalent cases for the entire study period, consistent with the current conceptualization of each of these disorders as lifelong, recurrent conditions.”
Women, who comprised 71.3% of the MS patients, had a higher incidence and prevalence of depression, anxiety disorder and bipolar disorder than men, and this was true for the matched population also, whereas the rates for schizophrenia were higher among men than women.

The researchers note, however, that men face a greater risk of depression when they develop MS than do women, citing to a 93% higher incidence of depression among male MS patients as compared to ones without. Women had a 59% higher incidence.