Prevalence and correlates of depression among veterans with multiple sclerosis.

OBJECTIVES: To establish the prevalence of major depressive episode (MDE) in a large sample of veterans with multiple sclerosis (MS); to identify demographic characteristics, aspects of disease presentation, and perceptions of disability associated with greater concurrent risk for MDE; and to examine the relationship between MDE, service utilization, and activity participation.

METHODS: Veterans with MS (n = 1,032) were identified via computer database and surveyed by mail; 451 (43.7%) responded.

RESULTS: Twenty-two percent of the sample met criteria for current MDE. Low income, unemployment, presence of falls, younger age, absence of a marital partner, and high levels of perceived disability due to bowel functioning were independently associated with MDE. Disease subtype, disease duration, use of disease modifying therapies, and perceived disability due to mobility or bladder problems were unrelated to MDE. Current MDE was in turn associated with increased primary care visits and increased impact of disease upon activity participation. Similar correlates were associated with minor depressive episode.

CONCLUSIONS: Unlike the general population, rates of depression in this predominantly male sample were similar to those found in predominantly female samples of persons with multiple sclerosis. Specific aspects of disability were differentially associated with depression, and depression was independently associated with increased service utilization and increased participation limitations.