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Screening for Major Depression in the Early Stages of Multiple Sclerosis

     Michael JL Sullivan, Brian Weinshenker, Samuel Mikail and Scott R Bishop

Abstract:   Background: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is associated with a high risk of developing major depression, but depression in MS patients frequently goes undetected and untreated. The current study examined the clinical utility of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) as a screening measure for major depression in newly diagnosed MS patients. Methods: Forty-six new referrals to an MS clinic completed the BDI and participated in a structured interview for major depression, within 2 months of the diagnosis of MS. Results: According to DSM-III-R criteria, 40% of patients were diagnosed with major depression, 22% had adjustment disorder with depressed mood, and 37% showed no evidence of mood disorder. Sensitivity and specificity values, and positive and negative predictive values are reported for every BDI cut-off score between 9 and 21. Conclusions: A BDI cut-off score of 13 (sensitivity = .71, specificity = .79) is recommended as optimal for use in screening for major depression in newly diagnosed MS patients. The use of the BDI as a screening measure for major depression must proceed with caution given that a cut-off score of 13 still yielded a false-negative rate of 30%.

Can. J. Neurol. Sci. 1995; 22: 228-231


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