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Neurological diseases and depression, up to 50% suffer from them

Depression is a disorder that often occurs and influences neurological diseases, being one of the main comorbidities. According to the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN), between 30 and 50% of people who suffer from a neurological disease also have depression

The WITHOUT has presented the results of the report “Depression and Neurology” during the last and recent Annual Meeting, which reflects the impact this disorder has on neurological diseases and their patients.

One of the main conclusions drawn from the report refers to depression as a process that is observed more frequently in people with neurological diseases than in the general population.

Specifically, one 30-50% of people who suffer from a neurological disease also suffer from depression.

How does depression affect neurological patients?

In terms of the general population, the rate of depression in stroke survivors is almost eight times higher.

Epilepsy is three to five times more likely to develop depression, and the prevalence of depression among migraine sufferers is two times higher.

65% of patients with multiple sclerosis, 50% of patients with Alzheimer’s, 40% of patients with Parkinson’s and 80% of patients with ALS or narcolepsy show symptoms of depression in different degrees.

Depression, a comorbidity of many neurological diseases

“Neurological diseases are the main cause of disability and the second cause of death in the world. And depression is a comorbidity that is present in the majority”, he explains doctor José Láinez, president of the SEN.

Depending on the depressive symptoms, the effectiveness of the treatment may vary. If the symptoms are less, the response to certain treatments will be better and the patient’s perception of the quality of life will be better.

Depression neurological diseases patients
EFE/Javier Etxezarreta

Depression is a factor that also influences the evolution of neurological diseases.

In the case of patients who, in addition to a neurological disease, also suffer from depression, they have up to ten times greater risk of dying from stroke, twice the risk of developing drug-resistant epilepsy and have a greater level of cognitive impairment in the face of diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis.

The spokesperson for the SEN, Dr. Javier Camiñanotes: “In any case, and although depression can affect the effectiveness of treatments used to address neurodegenerative diseases, they can also help improve it.”

Risk of suicidal ideation

According to the report, even if depression is diagnosed as mild, its presence increases the risk of suicide among people with neurological disorders.

In the last ten years, there has been an increase in the suicidal tendency among patients with neurological diseases (11%) and it has been found that there is a greater risk of suicide in patients with diseases such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, migraine and especially cluster headache. Also in neurodegenerative disorders.

However, “despite its frequency, depression is not always diagnosed in neurological patients in an adequate way, because the clinical manifestations of depression can be different from the usual ones and can be confused with the symptoms of fatigue, sleep disturbance, apathy, cognitive deficits… which are also common symptoms in many of these diseases”, explains Dr. Láinez.

Depression can also lead to the onset of neurological diseases

Depression can also be a risk factor to suffer from neurological diseases.

The study shows that a person who has suffered depression has a risk of 66% more likely to have a stroke, twice the risk of developing epilepsy, almost double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia, three times the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and a very high chance of having their first migraine crisis.

On the other hand, the 60% of patients with depression will experience headache and even a 10% of Alzheimer’s cases occurring each year could be attributable to depression.

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