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    Multiple Sclerosis (MS) may be an early sign of Depression & Anxiety



    Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

    Source: University of British Colombia

    Summary: In the years before the onset of multiple sclerosis (MS), people were nearly twice as likely to experience mental illness, according to new research that is illuminating the disease’s early warning signs. According to the study, psychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression may be part of the prodromal phase of multiple sclerosis (MS), which is characterized by a set of early symptoms and signs that appear before classic MS symptoms.

    According to the study, which was published in Neurology, the official medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, mental illnesses like anxiety and depression may be a part of the prodromal phase of multiple sclerosis (MS), which is characterized by a set of early symptoms and clues that appear before classic MS symptoms.

    “For a long time, it was thought that MS only really began clinically when a person experienced their first demyelinating event, such as in the form of vision problems,” said senior author Dr. Helen Tremlett, professor of neurology at UBC and a member of the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health. “But we’ve come to understand there is a whole period preceding those events where the disease presents itself in more indirect ways.”

    In MS, an autoimmune condition that affects brain communication, the immune system attacks myelin, the protective sheath covering nerve fibers. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) symptoms are varied and easily confused with those of other diseases, medical professionals frequently have trouble diagnosing them. This means that the road to a diagnosis can be arduous and uncertain for many patients.

    In order to facilitate earlier detection and potential intervention, Dr. Tremlett and her team have been working to better characterize the early stages of MS. It is well known that some diseases, like Parkinson’s, have prodromal phases during which people experience symptoms like constipation years before the onset of traditional motor deficits.

    “If we can recognize MS earlier, treatment could begin sooner. This has tremendous potential to slow disease progression and improve quality of life for people,” said Dr. Tremlett.

    In order to facilitate earlier detection and potential intervention, Dr. Tremlett and her team have been working to better characterize the early stages of MS. It is well known that some diseases, like Parkinson’s, have prodromal phases during which people experience symptoms like constipation years before the onset of traditional motor deficits.

    According to the research, 14.9 percent of people in general and 28.0% of MS patients reported having a mental condition. Patients with MS also frequently use healthcare services for psychiatric symptoms, including hospitalizations, prescriptions, and visits to doctors and psychiatrists.

    Notably, the gap grew in each of the five years prior to the onset of the disease.

    “We see higher and higher rates of psychiatric conditions that peak in the final year before MS onset,” said first author Dr. Anibal Chertcoff, who conducted the study as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Tremlett’s lab and is now an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba. “While we’re not suggesting that these conditions alone can be a predictor of MS, they may be one piece of the MS prodrome puzzle and a potential signal when combined with other factors.”

    The research expands on earlier findings from Dr. Tremlett’s lab suggesting that the MS prodrome may also include other symptoms like fatigue, sleep issues, irritable bowel syndrome, anemia, and pain.

    For Sharon Roman, who has lived with MS for 25 years, better defining this prodromal period could have huge benefits for patients. “We take many things in life for granted — walking, balance, vision, speech, even the simple act of swallowing — until one day it’s taken from us by MS,” Roman said. “The better we can identify the early signs and symptoms of MS, the earlier we can recognize, diagnose, and treat it. We can help prevent people from being diagnosed the way I was, with a massive attack and hospitalization, and prevent the losses I’ve experienced. Earlier treatment may help slow progression.”

    Source: University of British Columbia

    Image Source: Canva

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