Depression causes significant morbidity and mortality, and this also occurs in Huntington Disease (HD), an inherited neurodegenerative illness with motor, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms. The presentation of depression in this population remains poorly understood, particularly in the prodromal period before development of significant motor symptoms. In this study, we assessed depressive symptoms in a sample of 803 individuals with the HD mutation in the prodromal stage and 223 mutation-negative participants at the time of entry in the Neurobiological Predictors of HD (PREDICT-HD) study. Clinical and biological HD variables potentially related to severity of depression were analyzed. A factor analysis was conducted to characterize the symptom domains of depression in a subset (n=168) with clinically significant depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms were found to be more prevalent in HD mutation carriers but did not increase with proximity to HD diagnosis and were not associated with length of the HD mutation. Increased depressive symptoms were significantly associated with female gender, self-report of past history of depression, and a slight decrease in functioning, but not with time since genetic testing. The factor analysis identified symptom domains similar to prior studies in other populations. These results show that individuals with the HD mutation are at increased risk to develop depressive symptoms at any time during the HD prodrome. The clinical presentation appears to be similar to other populations. Severity and progression are not related to the HD mutation.
Keywords: Depression; Genetic testing; Huntington disease; Suicide.
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