Do you have anxiety? It is a common problem in MS

Garfield & Lincoln. Factors affecting anxiety in multiple sclerosis. Disabil Rehabil. 2012 ;34:2047-2052.

Purpose: Anxiety is common in MSers. Little is known about the factors related to anxiety. The aim was to identify factors associated with the presence of anxiety.

Methods: This was a cohort study. Participants were sent questionnaires to measure factors potentially related to anxiety. The factors included disability, depression, self-efficacy, locus of control, general stress, psychological distress and factors specific to MS. Participants with significant levels of anxiety, as measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), were compared to those who were not anxious.

Results: Of the 157 participants who took part, 89 (57%) were clinically anxious. Participants who were anxious had a lower level of self-efficacy (p < 0.001), higher level of disability (p < 0.001), higher level of depression (p < 0.001) and higher level of stress (p < 0.001). The regression analysis showed that experiencing depression (χ(2) = 5.05, OR = 1.32, p < 0.05) was the only factor that significantly predicted whether someone was anxious or not, accounting for 46% of the variance.

Conclusion: There was a high prevalence of anxiety in people with MS. Depression, low levels of self-efficacy, disability and stress increased the likelihood of experiencing anxiety.

“To assess the magnitude of the anxiety problem in our readers, we would appreciate it if you could complete this short survey; it will take less than 60 seconds to do. Thanks.”

“When you ask MSers about anxiety the majority have it; it is the uncertainty of what the future holds and the impact that MS will have on both your social and occupational functioning that worries you. Will I be able to work? Will I be a burden to my family? Will I be able to look after my children? What happens if I can’t afford to stay in my home? If my partner leaves me who will look after me? Will the government cut my benefits? Etc. etc. Those of us without a chronic disease have no idea how disabling anxiety can be; it a significant MS co-morbidity and needs to be identified and treated. In my experience MS-related anxiety needs to be treated with both CBT and medication. In addition, suppressing MS disease activity with DMTs helps. Being free of relapses helps. Several MSers have volunteered feeling less anxious after starting DMTs. Unfortunately, this aspect of DMTs has never been formally studied, but deserves attention; it is the kind of data that may tip the cost-benefit of expensive DMTs in favour of allowing us to use the drug under the NHS.” 

5 thoughts on “Do you have anxiety? It is a common problem in MS”

  1. I don't suffer anxiety at the same level every day, it is a bit like MS. Most of the time I can control it, but there are times when it gets out of control, the knock-on effect is feeling depressed It is those moments that worry me.Anxiety is much more likely if you have MS but all of us are are likely to suffer from anxiety at some time or another.I think anxiety affects each individual in a different way, MS increases the chances of having it and the severity

  2. I get anxious of daily things like falling over in the house or at work. That often is exhausting. Worrying drains energy.

  3. Anxiety in MS is very interesting, I hope we get to see more research in this area. Anxiety in healthy people is harmful so what is it doing to MSers?? There is a direct correlation between when I get anxious in bed my feet start to move/spasm.

  4. Is it the same type of anxiety as experienced by someone without MS? Or is it rather directly caused by the disease activity in the brain?? More like a psychiatric symptom than a psychological reaction to having the disease..

    1. I have been thinking about this too and reading a book on anxiety it mentions an infection or ear disturbance can cause anxiety. Having vertigo or dizziness could cause anxiety as your balance is off. Also time of the month for women can cause anxiety. I expect inflammation too could cause anxiety. It would seem there are many triggers for anxiety.

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