Background: Patients with epilepsy or multiple sclerosis (MS) have high risks of depression and increased risks of suicide, but little is known about their risks of suicidal ideation.
Objective: We sought to (1) estimate the prevalence of thoughts of being better off dead or of self-harm among patients with epilepsy or MS, (2) identify risk factors for such thoughts, and (3) determine whether any risk factors interact with depression to predict such thoughts.
Methods: A Cleveland Clinic database provided information on 20,734 visits of 6586 outpatients with epilepsy or MS. Outcome measures were thoughts of death or self-harm (Patient Health Questionnaire [PHQ] item-9), and total score ≥10 for the 8 remaining PHQ items (probable major depression). Generalized estimating equations accounted for repeat visits in tests of associations of PHQ item-9 responses with depression, age, sex, race, household income, disease severity, and quality of life.
Results: Prevalence of thoughts of death or self-harm averaged 14.4% overall (epilepsy, 14.0% and MS, 14.7%). Factors associated with positive PHQ item-9 responses in epilepsy were depression and male sex, modified by poor quality of life. Factors associated with positive PHQ item-9 in MS were depression, male sex, medical comorbidity, and poor quality of life; the effect of depression was worse with greater MS severity and being unmarried.
Conclusions: Among patients with common neurologic disorders (epilepsy or MS), 14%-15% reported thoughts of death or self-harm associated with illness severity, depression, quality of life, male sex, and being unmarried. Such patients require further evaluation of clinical outcomes and effects of treatment.
Copyright © 2015 The Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.