Background: In Huntington's disease (HD) the risk of suicide is increased. Since suicidality may precede suicide, this study investigates prevalence, clinical associations and predictors of suicidality in HD.
Methods: Suicidality was investigated in 152 mutation carriers and 56 non-carriers, and was considered present if the score on the item 'suicidal ideation' of the Problem Behaviours Assessment (PBA) was >1 point. After 2 years, 100 mutation carriers who were free of suicidality at baseline were re-assessed. Associations and predictors of suicidality were analyzed using multivariate logistic regression analysis.
Results: Eleven (20%) pre-motor and 20 (20%) motor symptomatic mutation carriers were considered suicidal compared to none of the non-carriers. Cross-sectionally, suicidal mutation carriers were more likely to use antidepressants (odds ratio=5.3), were more often apathetic (OR=2.8), more often had a depressed mood according to the PBA (OR=5.9), and were more often diagnosed with a DSM-IV depression diagnosis (OR=4.7). Independent associations were more frequent use of antidepressants (OR=4.0) and presence of a depressed mood (OR=4.2). Longitudinally, depressed mood (OR=10.6) at baseline was the only independent predictor of suicidality at follow-up.
Limitations: Selection bias might have occurred which could have affected the suicidality rate.
Conclusion: It is important to screen both pre-motor and motor symptomatic HD mutation carriers for suicidality. The presence of a depressed mood is both associated with and predictive of suicidality in HD and assessment of depressed mood can help to identify individuals with increased risk for suicide.
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