Psychological assessment of individuals with Mal de Débarquement Syndrome

Jeff Riley, Diamond Gleghorn, Benjamin C. Doudican, Yoon Hee Cha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2149-2161
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number4
Early online dateSep 19 2021
StatePublished - Sep 19 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Laureate Institute for Brain Research, the William K. Warren Foundation, and the MdDS Balance Disorders Foundation (YHC).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, This is a U.S. government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply.


  • Mal de Débarquement Syndrome
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