Improving detection and treatment of depression in people with MS

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Woman walking through the woods

The quality of life of people with MS is 31 per cent less than the general population

In summary

  • Dr Lisa Grech has been awarded an incubator grant by MS Research Australia
  • Her study will focus on ways to improve the detection and treatment of depression in people with multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • More than 10 Australians are diagnosed with MS every week

MS Research Australia has awarded an incubator grant to Swinburne researcher Dr Lisa Grech to find ways to improve the detection and treatment of depression in people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Dr Grech is a registered psychologist and Research Fellow at the School of Health Sciences.

A need for improvement

Depression is two to three times more common among people with MS than the general population, and Dr Grech’s study will focus on two key areas: how depression is assessed and managed by healthcare professionals in MS specialist clinics, and existing barriers to assessing and treating depression for healthcare professionals and people with MS.

Despite the prevalence of depression among MS patients, international research shows that detection of depression is subpar.

“Up to 36 per cent of people with MS and depression are undiagnosed, only 46 per cent are referred for treatments when significant depressive symptoms are identified and up to 65 per cent of people receiving treatment still report moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms" says Dr Grech.

"There is a real need for better treatments and detection processes and this grant will help fund the research to identify these processes. This study is an important step towards improving detection, treatment and monitoring of clinically significant depressive symptoms through MS specialist healthcare providers” she adds.

Dr Grech has previously researched how to improve the health outcomes of people with MS by focusing on the dual perspective of the healthcare practitioner and the person with MS. She is also involved in assessing the ability of antidepressants to provide neuroprotection in people with MS. 

Summary of key statistics about MS in Australia

Accelerating progress

“Australia is home to exceptional talents in the area of MS research and we are excited to see the results of Dr Grech’s efforts in the coming years” says Dr Matthew Miles, CEO of MS Research Australia. MS Research Australia is the largest Australian not-for-profit organisation committed to accelerating research into the cause, better treatments and prevention with the aim of finding a cure for MS. 

“Her findings will contribute to our understanding of MS and the various ways we can better manage the symptoms of the disease.”

The incubator grant awarded to Dr Grech is part of $2.4 million in research funding awarded by MS Research Australia commencing January 2020.