Psychological assessment of individuals with Mal de Débarquement Syndrome

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Mal de Débarquement Syndrome, Persistent oscillating vertigo, Psychological profile, Vestibular disorder


Objective: To report on the psychological, personality, and behavioral profiles of individuals with persistent Mal de Débarquement Syndrome (MdDS).

Materials and methods: Individuals with MdDS who participated in neuromodulation clinical trials between May 2013 and June 2019 completed a series of standardized psychological questionnaires and underwent the Structural Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR (SCID) for specific psychiatric diagnoses. All data reported are from baseline assessments prior to any study interventions. Scores were compared to population norms for adult women.

Results: Complete datasets were available for 55 women. Mean age of onset of MdDS was 49.0 ± 11.9 years (range 22–69 years) and median duration of illness of 22 months (6 months–20 years). SCID results were as follows: healthy (48.1%), any lifetime Major Depressive Disorder (35.2%, 7.4% current); any lifetime history of anxiety disorder (11.1%); any lifetime substance use disorders (18.5%, 0% current). Compared to population norms, the MdDS group scored significantly higher on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 depression scale and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7 (GAD-7) anxiety scale, but only the GAD-7 correlated with symptom severity. The NEO-Five Factor Inventory for personality, Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, Behavioral Inhibition System/Behavioral Activation System Scale, and the Empathy Quotient metrics did not correlate with duration of illness. Disability assessed by the 12-item World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0 was 25.7 ± 6.7, comparable to reports for concussion. Disability correlated with severity of depression, anxiety, neuroticism, and affect but not to severity of MdDS.

Conclusions: Psychological profiles of MdDS relate to disability but not to duration of illness.

Recommended Citation

Riley, Jeff, Diamond Gleghorn, Benjamin C. Doudican, and Yoon-Hee Cha. "Psychological assessment of individuals with Mal de Débarquement Syndrome." Journal of Neurology (2021): 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00415-021-10767-4

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