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Keywords:

  • multiple system atrophy;
  • depression;
  • life satisfaction

Abstract

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by extrapyramidal signs, prominent autonomic failure, and a poor prognosis. In the absence of restorative treatment, management is aimed at improving quality of life. Little is known about modifiable factors, such as depression, that may affect quality of life in MSA. The present study investigated the rate of depressive symptoms and their relationship to life satisfaction in patients with MSA. Ninety-nine patients with MSA (54% women; mean age, 67.8 ± 8.8) completed measures of depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, physical function, and disease and demographic factors. Objective autonomic indices were abstracted from the medical chart. Participants reported a high rate of depressive symptoms, with 39% endorsing moderate to severe depressive symptoms on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI ≥ 7). Reported life satisfaction was low, with a mean of 38.8 on a 100-point visual analogue scale (0 = Extremely Dissatisfied, 100 = Extremely Satisfied). The SF-36 Physical Component Scale was approximately 1.5 standard deviations below the mean of a normative sample of healthy adults the same age. Regression analysis revealed that autonomic disease parameters accounted for 22% of the variance in life satisfaction. Physical function did not account for any additional variance; however, depressive symptoms accounted for an additional 15%. Depressive symptoms are common, often severe, and an important determinant of life satisfaction in patients with MSA. Adequate treatment of comorbid depression may improve quality of life in this population, despite the presence of other debilitating deficits. © 2005 Movement Disorder Society