Prevalence of depression among amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J Affect Disord. 2021 May 15:287:182-190. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2021.03.015. Epub 2021 Mar 12.


Background: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) people have a high risk of severe mental disorders, like depression, which impacts their function, quality of life, and mobility. However, there are no estimates of depression based paper published. This study aimed conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the prevalence of depression in ALS patients around the world.

Methods: PubMed/Medline, Web of science, Scopus, Embase, and Ovid are searched to identify papers that reporting the prevalence of depression. Studies are included in random-effects meta-analyses of the prevalence of depression. Subgroup analyses are performed on the severity of depression, instruments of depression, type of studies, and study regions.

Results: 46 eligible studies reported prevalence of depression. The pooled prevalence of depression among ALS people was 34% (27%-41%). According to the severity of depression, mild, moderate, and severe depression were 29%, 16%, and 8%, respectively. For studies using BDI, PHQ, and HADS, the pooled prevalence of depression was 50%, 20%, and 15%, respectively.

Conclusions: ALS people have a high prevalence of depression. The high prevalence of depression causes a reduction of quality of life and mobility. The study identifies a population group at high risk needing special attention in clinical practice.

Keywords: Als; Depression; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis* / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life