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Patients with multiple sclerosis can experience various mental health difficulties, and this study focuses specifically on the prevalence of anxiety in this population.

Among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), anxiety represents one of the most common psychological symptoms and can impact both overall disease burden and quality of life. The psychopathological feature of anxiety can be expressed as a state (S-ANX) or as a trait (T-ANX), but until now, few studies have evaluated how these two components function among patients with MS. This study, published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, investigated the prevalence and specific correlates of both S-ANX and T-ANX in a cohort of people with MS.

A total of 88 MS patients, including both in-patients and out-patients, were recruited for the study. S-ANX and T-ANX were evaluated using two subscales of the State and Trait Anxiety Inventory. Bivariate analyses were used to compare people with MS who showed clinically significant S-ANX and T-ANX with those who didn’t, and two logistic regression models were used to identify variables associated with these forms of anxiety. In total, S-ANX was found in 42% of participants and T-ANX in 45.5%. S-ANX was more common in recently hospitalized participants, as well as those that had relapsed more frequently. These participants also showed evidence of disease activity on brain MRI scans.

Subjects with T-ANX tended to be female and to show a higher severity of fatigue. Depression severity correlated significantly with both T-ANX and S-ANX. The authors conclude by noting that both S-ANX and T-ANX are highly prevalent features in people with multiple sclerosis. These two components should be differentiated and treated accordingly in clinical practice, and the severity of depression in this population should not be ignored.

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Menculini, G., Gentili, L., Gaetani, L., Mancini, A., Sperandei, S., Di Sabatino, E., Chipi, E., Salvadori, N., Tortorella, A., Parnetti, L., & Di Filippo, M. (2022). Clinical correlates of state and trait anxiety in multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler Relat Disord, 69, 104431. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2022.104431