High suicidal ideation in persons testing for Huntington's disease

Department of Psychology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden
Acta Neurologica Scandinavica (Impact Factor: 2.4). 10/2000; 102(3):150-61. DOI: 10.1034/j.1600-0404.2000.102003150.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study examined the first participants who registered for the Huntington's disease predictive testing program 1990-1995 in Stockholm, Sweden. A psychosocial investigation was performed to evaluate potential effects of the presymptomatic testing. The results showed no significant differences between 13 gene carriers and 21 noncarriers in pretest attitudes, expectations, general well-being, life satisfaction and lifestyle, the need for support, estimated sense of wellbeing or degree of health. However, both groups showed high suicidal ideation and self-injurious behavior. Noncarriers had a very high frequency of attempted suicide, and both groups had similarly pronounced psychiatric dysfunction. Their relatives also had high frequencies of psychiatric diseases, suicide or suicidal attempts. Most of the participants had a desire to meet a psychologist or a social worker. The need for counseling, using a well designed protocol, and the importance of focusing on suicide risk of participants in predictive testing programs is emphasized.

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Available from: Tarja-Brita Robins Wahlin, Sep 28, 2015
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    • "Although the first symptoms of HD often occur years after predictive genetic testing, the persons know about the definite occurrence of the disease from the moment they receive the unfavorable result. As short-term psychosocial consequences during the first year after an unfavorable test result depression, anxiety, and mental distress were reported [Meissen et al., 1988; Bloch et al., 1992; Tibben et al., 1992, 1994, 1997; Quaid and Wesson, 1995; Wiggins et al., 1996; Robins Wahlin et al., 2000]. Only a small number of patients showed severe psychological reactions (e.g., suicide, psychiatric hospitalization) after receiving the unfavorable test result [Almqvist et al., 1999]. "
    • "HD patients are afflicted with depression, dysphoria, agitation, irritability, labile mood, apathy, and anxiety [27] [28]. Also, a disproportionately high prevalence of obsessive-compulsive symptoms, sleep disturbances, personality changes, psychotic symptoms, and suicidal tendencies have been previously reported [29] [30] [31] [32]. "
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    • "Anxiety and depression temporarily increase for gene carriers, but, within a year, psychological symptoms return to baseline. Pessimism about the future and more suicidal ideation may occur [12] [13]. "
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