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Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

Print version ISSN 2237-6089On-line version ISSN 2238-0019


CARVALHO, Tatiana Lins et al. Depression and anxiety in individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a systematic review. Trends Psychiatry Psychother. [online]. 2016, vol.38, n.1, pp.1-5.  Epub Mar 18, 2016. ISSN 2238-0019.


Studies assessing symptoms of depression and anxiety in individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have reported contradictory results. The objective of this systematic review is to identify the prevalence of these mood disorders in the literature.


We searched the PubMed, HighWire, MEDLINE, SciELO, LILACS and ScienceDirect databases. Literature was selected for review in two stages, according to eligibility criteria. The first stage involved searching databases and checking titles and abstracts. The second step consisted of reading complete articles and excluding those that did not meet the inclusion criteria. The inclusion criteria were articles written in Portuguese, English or Spanish, published in the last five years and involving people with ALS diagnosed according to the El Escorial criteria.


The database searches returned a total of 1,135 titles and abstracts and then 1,117 of these were excluded. Eighteen articles were selected for review. The 12-item Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Depression Inventory (ADI-12) was the only instrument designed specifically to assess depression in ALS, but it was only used in three studies. No instruments specifically designed for anxiety in ALS were used. A large number of studies found presence and slight increase of anxiety disorders. There was considerable large variation in the results related to depressive disorders, ranging from moderate depression to an absence of symptoms.


Patients with ALS may exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety at different levels, but there is a need for studies using specific instruments with larger samples in order to ascertain the prevalence of symptoms in ALS and the factors associated with it.

Keywords : Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; anxiety; depression; incidence; prevalence.

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