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A population-based study of depressive symptoms in multiple sclerosis in Stockholm county: association with functioning and sense of coherence


Objectives: To explore and analyse the prevalence of depressive symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS), taking into account disease-related and sociodemographic factors, and also to analyse the association between depressive symptoms and functioning (tested and self-reported) and sense of coherence (SOC), respectively.

Methods: Home visits were made to a population-based sample of 166 PwMS. Data were obtained from structured, face-to-face interviews using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP) and the SOC scale. A range of tests were also carried out for analyses of different aspects of functioning such as cognitive function, walking capacity and manual dexterity, and structured interviews examined activities of daily living and frequency of social/lifestyle activities.

Results: 19% (28/149) of the people were depressed (BDI ⩾13). Depressive symptoms were associated with worse self-reported functioning on the SIP and with poor memory function, but not with any of the other tests of functioning. Depressive symptoms were associated with weak SOC, but not with any of the disease-related or sociodemographic factors studied.

Conclusion: The prevalence of depressive symptoms in a population-based sample of PwMS is high. Given the serious nature of depression and its association with worse self-reported functioning and weak SOC, attention to, and treatment of, mental-health problems and depression are strongly indicated in the clinical management of multiple sclerosis.

  • ADL, activities of daily living
  • BDI, Beck Depression Inventory
  • PwMS, people with multiple sclerosis
  • SIP, Sickness Impact Profile
  • SDMT, Symbol Digit Modalities Test
  • SOC, sense of coherence

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