Psychiatric Problems Could Predict Future Progressive Disability in MS Patients

Treating mental health disorders may reduce the risk of progressive multiple sclerosis.

Many studies have shown that patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) may be at risk of developing psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression.

Having a mental health disorder in addition to MS may have the potential to reduce quality of life; however, it has yet to be determined whether the comorbidities can worsen MS.

A new study published by Neurology aimed to explore the commonality of psychiatric conditions among patients with MS and how it may contribute to worsening disease progression.

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Included in the study were data from 2312 patients with MS from clinical and population-based health administrative databases in British Columbia and Nova Scotia.

Over a 10-year period, approximately 36% of patients with MS were diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder.

The risk of a mood or anxiety disorder was linked to a higher Expanded Disability Status Scale score, according to the study. These findings remained valid after accounting for disease duration, disease course, age, sex, socioeconomic status, physical comorbidity, and treatment with disease-modifying drugs.

The authors said these findings were statistically significant among women with MS but not among men, according to the study. Additionally, the findings related to anxiety and bipolar disorder were not statistically significant.

The researchers noted that patients with MS who have a psychiatric disorder may have an increased risk of disease progression, which highlights the need to monitor this population.

Future studies should explore whether better management of psychiatric disorders may reduce the risk of MS progression, according to the authors.