top of page

Study Links Psychiatric Disorders and Physical Disability in Women with MS

Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety contribute to physical disability in women with multiple sclerosis, according to a Canadian study.

Several studies in the past have suggested that psychiatric disorders are common among MS patients—brain inflammation has been reported as a potential driver of depression and anxiety in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). Children with MS have also been found to be more susceptible to psychiatric disorders than other children.

Findings like these are what initially raise the question of whether psychiatric disorders are contributing factors to MS progression and patient outcomes.

A Canadian team led by Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie of the University of Manitoba analyzed the records of 2,312 adults diagnosed with MS. 76 percent of whom were women with relapsing MS.

Found in the follow-up period ranging from 6.2 to 14.8 years, 36 percent of patients had developed a mood or anxiety disorder. The most common were depression (37 percent), anxiety (22 percent) and bipolar disorder (5 percent).

Researchers found patients with mood or anxiety disorders also had worse physical disability scores that were measured using the expanded disability status scale (EDSS). The trend was found in both men and women, yet only statistically significant in women.

After re-analyzing the data according to each individual disorder, researchers found that only depression was significantly associated with higher EDSS scores. This goes to say that anxiety and bipolar disorders did not contribute to physical disability in MS patients.

These results suggested that psychiatric disorders, specifically depression, have the ability to contribute to MS progression and the “severity of subsequent neurologic disability,” wrote the researchers.

The team suggested that, “Optimizing management of psychiatric comorbidities [Disorders] should be explored as a means of potentially mitigating disability progression in MS.”


bottom of page