Improving detection and treatment of depression in people with MS

Dr Lisa Grech

Monash University, VIC

| Better treatments | Social And Applied Research | Fellowship | 2021 | Investigator Led Research |


Previous studies have shown that the occurrence of depression in people with MS is up to 2-3 times higher than the general population. It is also known that depression in this group may be more challenging to treat effectively. Additionally, recent research has shown that depression in people living with MS may go undetected and be under-treated in the community.

In this study, Dr Lisa Grech hopes to build on her previous work funded by MS Australia, to better understand the current screening, monitoring and treatment of depression in people with MS and to more fully understand the characteristics of depressive symptoms in this population. Additionally, Dr Grech will assess whether a brief screening tool which may easily be incorporated into clinical visits, may assist healthcare professionals to better detect depression in people with MS. It is anticipated that outcomes from the study will then support clinicians to improve both the detection and management of depression in this population. This will ultimately lead to improved quality of life for people with MS.

Progress to Date

Dr Grech and her team have published a systematic review of the literature assessing current guidelines for detecting and treating depression in people with MS. The systematic review confirmed a lack of consistent guidelines for detection and treatment of depression in MS. It was found that most guidelines lacked detail and were not clear to what extent they could be applied to people with MS, highlighting the need to develop high-quality, comprehensive clinical practice guidelines with clear recommendations that can be used by healthcare clinicians working with people with MS. A systematic review of screening tools used to detect depression in people with MS is underway.

The next stages of the project involve continuing to improve the detection and treatment of depression in MS with national validation of current practices, validation of a two-question verbal depression screening tool for clinical use, characterising the depression symptom profile of MS and developing practice recommendations and support for clinicians to improve identification and treatment of depression in MS. Recruitment of participants and data analysis is well underway for these next stages of the project.

We look forward to reporting further updates as this work continues to make its way into the scientific literature and hopefully into clinical practice.


  • Clinical practice guidelines for the detection and treatment of depression in multiple sclerosis: A systematic review (2023) Georgia E McIntosh, Edward S Liu, Michelle Allan, and Lisa B Grech, Neurology: Clinical Practice. 2023 Jun; 13(3) 

Updated: 31 March 2023

Updated: 19 January, 2021

Stages of the research process

Fundamental laboratory

Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 10+ years

Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.

Lab to clinic timeline: 5+ years
Clinical Studies
and Clinical Trials

Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 1-5 years


Grant Awarded

  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship Grant

Total Funding

  • $165,000


  • 3 years

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Improving detection and treatment of depression in people with MS