INTRODUCTION: People with Multiple Sclerosis are known to have a relatively high prevalence of both anxiety and depression. Studies of the relationship between physical disability and mental health in people with MS have reported mixed results, showing the need for further work.
METHODS: Between May 2011 and April 2012, 4516 people completed the MSIS-29 (v.1) and HADS scales via the dedicated internet site of the UK MS Register within a 7 day time window. These responses were linked with basic demographic and descriptive data.
RESULTS: The proportions of people experiencing anxiety or depression increased with physical disability such that 38.0% of respondents with low, and 66.7% with high disability reported at least mild anxiety, and 17.1% of people with low, and 71.7% with high disability experienced at least mild depression.
CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates that there is a positive relationship between physical disability and anxiety and depression, that physical disability impacts on anxiety and depression to differing extents, and that the effects vary with gender, age, disease course and disease duration. We have shown that physical disability is a predictor of anxiety and depression, and that other factors may mask the extent of this effect. It is essential that mental well being is given due attention in caring for people with MS so that all their health needs can be met.
By joining the community of people in the UK affected by MS and contributing to the MS Register, you will be directly involved in generating new research. The knowledge we gain from this study will fuel campaigns for fair, relevant policy and improved healthcare for people living with MS.