Depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric conditions occurred significantly more in a very large population of people in British Columbia, Canada who would go on to develop MS compared to people who did not develop MS. This finding is from a new study from Canadian researchers
co-funded by the National MS Society.
Increased research on the earliest stages of MS may enable earlier treatment to stop or even prevent MS, which are among goals of the Pathways to Cures Roadmap
There is growing recognition that MS has a “prodrome,” an early phase of unspecific symptoms indicating a high risk for future onset and diagnosis of MS. Further work to map out the prodrome may enable opportunities to intervene and prevent the development of full-blown MS. This team previously reported increased use of health care
before onset of MS.
In the current study, a team of Canadian researchers led by Dr. Helen Tremlett (University of British Columbia) with postdoctoral fellow Dr. Anibal Chertcoff and others, looked at health claims and clinic visits of thousands of people with MS in British Columbia and compared them to data from thousands of people who did not have MS. They compared the number of physician visits, hospital admissions, and prescriptions for psychiatric conditions like depression and anxiety in each of the 5 years before onset of MS.
The number of individuals who had medical claims, visits, or prescriptions for psychiatric conditions was significantly greater among those who eventually developed MS than in those in the control group in the 5 years before the onset of MS symptoms.
Why does this matter?
- This difference increased every year as MS onset approached.
- But not everyone had evidence of a psychiatric condition before onset of their MS. About a quarter of those who went on to develop MS had a psychiatric condition diagnosed before MS onset, compared to about one-sixth of those in the general population.
This study indicates that an uptick in mental health changes may be part of the pre-MS “prodrome” for some individuals. Identifying specific signs of the MS prodrome may enable earlier treatment to stop or even prevent MS. It also indicates the importance of mental health care when needed, even early in the course of MS.
“Psychiatric comorbidity during the prodromal period in patients with multiple sclerosis,”
by Anibal Chertcoff, Fardowsa LA Yusuf, Feng Zhu, Charity Evans, John D Fisk, Yinshan Zhao, Ruth Ann Marrie, and Helen Tremlett, was published in Neurology
online on September, 25, 2023.