Multiple sclerosis, anxiety, and depression in the United Arab Emirates: Does social stigma prevent treatment?

Nicoline Schiess, Katherine Huether, Kathryn B. Holroyd, Faisal Aziz, Essam Emam, Tarek Shahrour, Miklos Szolics, Taoufik Alsaadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Depression rates in the multiple sclerosis (MS) population in the Arab world have rarely been reported despite people with MS generally having higher rates of depression. We examined depression rates in 416 people with MS versus the general population of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and their treatment. Methods: A retrospective medical record review of 416 people with MS (age range, 16-80 years) followed up at four large government hospitals in Abu Dhabi was conducted to determine the percentage of people with MS diagnosed as having depression or anxiety. Results: The depression rate in people with MS (10.8%) was close to that in the general population of Abu Dhabi. The adjusted odds ratios of depression by selected variables showed that there was a significant difference (P = .003) between females and males in reporting depression, with more females reporting depression than males. Greater MS duration was also associated with a higher likelihood of being depressed (P = .025). The anxiety rate in the cohort (4.8%) was lower than that in the general Abu Dhabi population (18.7%). Conclusions: The depression rate in people with MS in Abu Dhabi was close to that of the general Abu Dhabi population, but the anxiety rate in people with MS was lower. Explanations for these low rates include possible underreporting by patients and physician factors such as time limitations in busy clinics. Cultural aspects such as strong family support systems and religious factors in this predominantly Muslim population are also possible factors that warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-34
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of MS Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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