Prospective Examination of Anxiety and Depression Before and During Confirmed and Pseudoexacerbations in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis

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ObjectiveThis study was designed to determine whether pseudoexacerbations and confirmed MS exacerbations are preceded by or concurrent with increased anxiety or depressive symptoms.MethodsThis was a secondary analysis of 121 patients with MS who were observed for 48 weeks during a randomized controlled trial. Participants completed monthly self-reports on depressive and anxiety symptoms. Patient-reported exacerbations were assessed through a telephone-administered symptom checklist and neurologic examination.ResultsBoth pseudoexacerbations and confirmed exacerbations were associated with concurrent somatic depressive (β = .16 and β = .33, respectively; p values < .05), affective depressive (β = .17 [p = .02] and β = .12 [p = .06]), and anxiety symptoms (β = .24 and β = .20, p values < .01), controlling for baseline symptoms. Preexisting somatic and affective depressive symptoms predicted amplified relationships between concurrent confirmed exacerbations and these symptoms (β = .19 and β = .20, respectively; p values < .01). A standard deviation increase in anxiety symptoms relative to baseline predicted subsequent onset of pseudoexacerbations (odds ratio = 1.54, p = .02), whereas increased somatic depressive symptoms predicted confirmed exacerbations (odds ratio = 1.59, p = .01).ConclusionsPatients with MS experiencing pseudoexacerbations or confirmed exacerbations should be assessed and monitored for depressive and anxiety symptoms, and confirmed exacerbations are particularly concerning in patients with a history of depression. The psychological or psychiatric antecedents of MS exacerbations generate new hypotheses on etiologies of confirmed exacerbations and pseudoexacerbations.Trial Identifier: NCT00147446.

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