Disease stage, but not sex, predicts depression and psychological distress in Huntington's disease: A European population study

J Psychosom Res. 2016 Jan:80:17-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2015.11.003. Epub 2015 Nov 12.


Objective: Depression and anxiety significantly affect morbidity in Huntington's disease. Mice. models of Huntington's disease have identified sex differences in mood-like behaviours that vary across disease lifespan, but this interaction has not previously been explored in humans with Huntington's disease. However, among certain medical populations, evidence of sex differences in mood across various disease stages has been found, reflecting trends among the general population that women tend to experience anxiety and depression 1.5 to 2 times more than men. The current study examined whether disease stage and sex, either separately or as an interaction term, predicted anxiety and depression in Huntington's disease.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of REGISTRY data involving 453 Huntington's disease participants from 12 European countries was undertaken using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. A series of multiple regression analyses were undertaken to discover to what extent disease stage and sex predicted anxiety, depression, and general distress after controlling for a number of known predictors of mood difficulties.

Results: Disease stage, but not sex, was found to predict depressive symptoms and general distress. Neither disease stage nor sex predicted anxiety. Furthermore, an interaction term computed for disease stage and sex did not contribute to the models tested.

Conclusion: In terms of considering risks to developing depression and anxiety in the Huntington's disease population, practitioners may need to pay special attention to disease stage progression (but not sex differences) to enable early detection and treatment of depression (but not anxiety).

Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Disease stage; HADS; Huntington disease; Sex.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / complications
  • Huntington Disease / epidemiology
  • Huntington Disease / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Registries
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Young Adult