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Mood varies over time in depressed MS patients

Mood varies over time in depressed MS patients
Thu May 4, 2006 08:36 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – While some symptoms remain relatively stable over time in depressed patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), mood symptoms are significantly more variable, according to a study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry.

“Lifetime prevalence estimates of depression in MS patients are high, typically falling around 50 percent,” write Dr. Peter A. Arnett, of Penn State University, University Park, and Dr. John Randolph, of Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire. Although many studies have looked at a cross section of MS patients with depression, few longitudinal studies have been conducted.

The researchers therefore examined the longitudinal course of and change in clusters of depression symptoms in 53 MS patients. They also assessed the association between interferon beta therapy and the ability of patients to cope with their symptoms of depression. The subjects completed two tests used to evaluate depression — the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Chicago Multiscale Depression Inventory (CMDI) – taken at two time points 3 years apart.

Highly significant correlations were observed between time one and time two for BDI scores and most components of the CMDI, and these results changed little over time, according to the authors. However, the component of the CMDI that assessed mood did not correlate well with other components of the CMDI.

The researchers also found that patients who had improvements in their mood used significantly more active coping strategies, whereas those whose mood symptoms worsened used significantly less active coping.

Compared with patients whose depressed mood improved, those whose mood worsened were significantly more likely to be using interferon beta drugs at both time points. Differences in demographic or illness variables did not appear to be related to depressed mood symptoms, according to the authors.

“Nonetheless, it is possible that other variables, not measured as part of this study, contributed more to patients’ increased mood disturbance than interferon beta use,” the investigators write.

“One possibility is that patients inclined to depressed mood to begin with were more likely to complain about illness related problems and, as such, physicians treating them may have been more likely to prescribe disease-modifying drugs such as interferon beta preparations.”

SOURCE: Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, May 2006.

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