Depression and anxiety are common in patients with myasthenia gravis (MG) and have a negative impact on health-related quality of life as well as caregivers’ burden, according to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“Diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric comorbidities should be considered an important element in MG care,” the authors wrote. “Screening tools for mental health conditions should be implemented at least in specialized MG centers.”

To quantify the impact of depression and severity of MG as perceived by the patients on health-related quality of life as well as on caregivers’ burden, a team of researchers from Germany led by Andreas Meisel, MD, conducted a cross-sectional study using a survey that included demographic and disease-related information. The survey assesses the symptoms of depression and anxiety, health-related quality of life, and caregiver burden.

Read more about the comorbidities of MG

The researchers analyzed the answers of 1399 patients and 1042 caregivers and found that 31% of patients had symptoms of depression and 36% had symptoms of anxiety. 

There was a strong association between the self-reported severity of the disease and the MG-Quality of Life scale scores.

Similarly, there was an association between caregiver burden and MG disease severity. Moreover, the caregiver burden was negatively influenced by symptoms of depression.

“Our findings suggest that guideline-based treatment of depression can improve perceived illness severity and [health-related quality of life] in MG patients and reduce caregiver burden,” the authors concluded.

MG is a rare neuromuscular disease affecting the neuromuscular junction. Symptoms of MG include general fatigability and muscle weakness, primarily affecting the ocular muscles, which are the result of the reduced transmission of electrical impulses across the neuromuscular junction. Typically, these symptoms are mitigated by rest.

Reference

Marbin D, Piper SK, Lehnerer S, et al. Mental health in myasthenia gravis patients and its impact on caregiver burden. Sci Rep. Published online November 11, 2022. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-22078-3