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Vol. 10, No. 1, 2007
Issue release date: December 2006
Community Genet 2007;10:19–26

Depressive Symptoms in Machado-Joseph Disease (SCA3) Patients and Their Relatives

Cecchin C.R. · Pires A.P. · Rieder C.R. · Monte T.L. · Silveira I. · Carvalho T. · Saraiva-Pereira M.L. · Sequeiros J. · Jardim L.B.
aMedical Genetics Service, bPsychology Service, cNeurology Service, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Porto Alegre, dInternal Medicine and eBiochemistry Departments, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; fUnIGENe, Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular, Porto, Portugal

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Objectives: It was the aim of this study to determine the depression scores of Machado-Joseph disease (MJD) patients, their spouses, and individuals at 50% risk for MJD, and second, to verify the existence of a correlation between depressive symptoms and the degree of motor incapacitation. Subjects and Methods: Two hundred and forty-six individuals aged ≧18 years were studied: 79 MJD patients (group 1), 43 spouses of MJD patients (group 2), 80 individuals at risk for MJD (group 3), and a control group (group 4) composed of 44 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). The following two tools were applied: the Beck Depression Inventory and the Barthel index of physical incapacitation, both in an adapted Brazilian Portuguese version. Results: Moderate to severe depressive scores were found in 33.5% of patients in the MJD families, in 16.3% of the spouses, and in 6.3% of the individuals at risk. This linear reduction between MJD family members was statistically significant (p < 0.0001, ANOVA). Depressive scores were also associated with age and the female sex. A direct correlation between Beck Depression Inventory scores and motor incapacitation was found in MJD patients (r = 0.507, Pearson correlation, p < 0.0001). Although the depressive symptoms in the control group with MS were higher than those found in MJD patients (59% of MS patients showed moderate to severe scores), depression did not correlate with physical incapacitation, age, or education attainment in the MS group. Conclusions: Depressive symptoms are rather common in MJD patients and in their spouses (caregivers). In this condition, depression seemed to be more reactive than primarily related to the disease process itself.

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