MS Patients Often Suffer Depression, Other Symptoms Within First Year of Diagnosis, Study Finds

MS Patients Often Suffer Depression, Other Symptoms Within First Year of Diagnosis, Study Finds

Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients in the first year of diagnosis frequently suffer from depression, pre-morbid personality, self-perception issues and other psychological problems, an Italian study finds. Yet it is hard to predict the degree of symptoms since MS takes a different course in each individual.

The study, “The first year after diagnosis: psychological impact on people with multiple sclerosis,” appeared in the journal Psychology, Health and Medicine.

Researchers have been studying the effects of a MS diagnosis in patients for up to four years and have found increasing levels of anxiety, depression and distress.

This led researchers at Italy’s San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan to conduct an analysis of the psychological changes in patients with MS. In particular, they looked at anxiety, depression, impact of diagnosis, problem-solving difficulties, fearfulness, obsessions, compulsions, personality and quality of life.

The study included 38 newly-diagnosed MS patients — 22 women and 16 men — who were assessed using the following: Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale, Beck Depression Inventory-II, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Psychophysiological Questionnaire-Revised, Fear Survey Schedule, Maudsley Obsessional-Compulsive Questionnaire, Impact of Event Scale-Revised, Personal Meaning Questionnaire, Problem Solving Inventory and Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life.

About 40 percent of patients showed “depressive symptomology,” the study results show; in addition, 65.8 percent dealt with their MS diagnosis by simply avoiding it.

Quality of life questionnaires also demonstrated that patients’ self-perception and psychological well-being had changed. So, too, did their perceptions of health unrelated to the neurological issue.

It is crucial that the attending neurologist have a complete understanding of the psychological changes that newly diagnosed MS patients go through; this can help improve a patient’s quality of life. It can also help patients participate in making decisions about their own treatments and how to stick to them.


  1. Janice Golding says:

    this explains why I had changed so much after DX and ended up losing everything but my car and my dog. My now Ex after 2.5 years couldn’t deal with the changes and left me forcing me to come to the one place I didn’t want to be which is Southern Cal where its too hot for me

    • Roy says:

      Sorry to hear about your situation. I admire you though for your loyalty to your dog.

      After my diagnosis with MS, I lost my flying privileges and now I’m selling my ranch that had a private airstrip, but my wife of 35 years and my 8 rescue dogs, well we are relocating to a smaller tract of land. I suspect for all of us afflicted with this ailment, we lose something but we have to maintain focus on the positive and dogs help keep us focused on good aspects of our lives that we sometimes overlook.

      Gone is my sence of “daring” to do what I used to do but for me, moving into the slow lane and this unexpected detour in life doesn’t mean we have to come to a dead end or take a path down a bumpy road.

      I’m confident your future will have bright spots in it as you take your own journey along a new path.

      Best of luck to you.

    • Jennifer grigsby says:

      Hi Janice,
      I can relate with you. I was forced to move closer to work and of course it’s always in the 100+ temps here in Barstow. I finally had to decide to file bankruptcy and will lose my car. It’s so scary and frustrating doing this on your own. I wish the best for you.

  2. Jana Morgan says:

    Oh Durrrr! Do you really think being depressed etc after being told you have ms is such a revelation???? Who wouldn’t be? I think anyone who tells people this diagnosis should be forced to then refer the patient to a psychologist to help them come to terms with it rather than just show them the door. It is a huge box of things to come to terms with. Give them some help as they need and deserve it!!

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