It’s no secret that stress, anxiety, and depression can negatively affect us physically. But according to Myasthenia Gravis News, researchers also linked stress and depression to increased relapses for patients with myasthenia gravis. As a result, researchers suggest that doctors take mental health and mental care into account when offering patient care. Check out the full findings in BMC Neurology.
If you can speak Greek or Latin, you might already know what myasthenia gravis means! This progressive autoimmune neuromuscular disorder causes extreme muscle weakness which worsens with activity. Most people live to a normal age, though around 10% of patients experience severe respiratory complications. Currently, there is no cure for myasthenia gravis, though treatment is available. Symptoms include:
- Trouble swallowing or chewing
- Changes in speech, such as slurring
- Muscle and limb weakness
- Trouble breathing
- Double vision
- Shortness of breath
Learn more about myasthenia gravis here.
Causes for Relapse
Some people have hypothesized that MG relapses are caused by infections, medication, coping mechanisms, stress, depression, anxiety, and personality type. Within this study, which followed 155 patients over a 1-year period, researchers wanted to understand which of these factors actually impacted relapse rate. Patients spanned from age 22 to 85 and were required to take tests/questionnaires at the onset of the study and after 6 months. These included:
- Myasthenia Gravis Impairment Index (MGII)
- Trier Inventory for Assessment of Chronic Stress (TICS) questionnaire
- Big 5 Personality Inventory
- Beck’s Depression Inventory – 2nd Edition (BDI-II)
During the study, 33 patients relapsed, while 122 experienced no symptoms or symptom worsening. Out of those who relapsed, only a small amount (13.9%) experienced high levels of stress. Rather, patients experiencing relapses had higher rates of stress, depression, and anxiety. Interestingly, researchers also discovered that patients with depression were more likely to receive their MG diagnosis at a younger age.
Additionally, relapse rate and disease severity were linked to neuroticism and self-doubt, but also to openness. Overall, researchers believe that factoring in mental health into treatment and care could improve patient outcomes.