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."