Study Explores Depression and Unemployment in Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Researchers have discovered an association between depression and employment status in people with multiple sclerosis, according to a study published in Functional Neurology.

Researchers have discovered an association between depression and employment status in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study published in Functional Neurology. However, researchers cautioned their study does not claim that depression is the cause of unemployment for people with MS.

Scott B. Patten, MD, PhD, and associates at the University of Calgary in Canada observed questionnaire data in entered in Canadian Impact of MS (CIMS) database for 4 years. The surveys recorded sex, education, employment status, and depression status. According to the study, the baseline depression rate was 29.4 percent in participants with MS.

Researchers noted the relative risk of attrition by depression status in the first 2 years was 0.93. Overall, researchers found a decreasing workforce for each follow-up year observed.

“The hazard ratio (HR) quantifying the effect of depression at baseline on transition to non-working status was 1.7 (95%CI), a significantly significant association,” the study said. “Clinically, it is apparent that depression often occurs around the time of occupational transition in MS.”

Investigators mentioned that ambulation aid usage could predict depression in unemployed MS patients. The researchers also said there was no association between sex, age, marital status, and education in unemployment rate.

However, the researchers claimed that depression is not an independent factor, and that there may be another unidentified precursor driving this trend of unemployment and depression in MS patients.

“The results presented herein challenge this assumption, suggesting that depression is better conceptualized as an associated factor that does not necessarily have independent effects,” the study claimed.

The investigators hinted that there may be an “interconnection between depression and aspects of neurological progression in people with MS.”

Due to their findings, they recommended looking beyond depression for solving unemployment in MS patients.

“The analysis does not substantiate the idea that disability benefits should be withheld when depression is present in the hope that functional capacity will return one the depression resolves,” the researchers suggested.

However, they believe that their findings provided additional evidence involving depression and MS.

“These findings validate the idea that depression may be a marker, or indicator, of subsequent functional transitions, even if it cannot be regarded as an independent causal determinant,” the investigators concluded.