#MSCOVID19 and depression


I don’t know about you but I am fed-up with COVID19, I am sure there are plenty of scientists with increased anxiety and depression due to COVID-19, people with MS cope.

Chiaravalloti ND, Amato MP, Brichetto G, et al. The emotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals with progressive multiple sclerosis [published online ahead of print, 2020 Aug 19]. J Neurol. 2020;10.1007/s00415-020-10160-7. doi:10.1007/s00415-020-10160-7

Objective: Individuals with pre-existing chronic illness have shown increased anxiety and depression due to COVID-19. Here, we examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on emotional symptomatology and quality of life in individuals with Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PMS).

Methods: Data were obtained during a randomized clinical trial on rehabilitation taking place at 11 centers in North America and Europe. Participants included 131 individuals with PMS. Study procedures were interrupted in accordance with governmental restrictions as COVID-19 spread. During study closure, a COVID Impact Survey was administered via telephone or email to all participants, along with measures of depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, quality of life, and MS symptomatology that were previously administered pre-pandemic.

Results: 4% of respondents reported COVID-19 infection. No significant changes were noted in anxiety, quality of life, or the impact of MS symptomatology on daily life from baseline to lockdown. While total HADS-depression scores increased significantly at follow-up, this did not translate into more participants scoring above the HADS threshold for clinically significant depression. No significant relationships were noted between disease duration, processing speed ability or EDSS, and changes in symptoms of depression or anxiety. Most participants reported the impact of the virus on their psychological well-being, with a little impact on financial well-being. The perceived impact of the pandemic on physical and psychological well-being was correlated with the impact of MS symptomatology on daily life, as well as changes in depression.

Conclusions: Overall, little change was noted in symptoms of depression or anxiety or overall quality of life.

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  • MD,

    I don’t suffer from anxiety or depression (that I know of), but this research doesn’t surprise me. A lot of people I know with MS do have anxiety issues, but the pandemic didn’t push them over the edge. It’s just another issue to add to all the issues that MS provides (physical, emotional…). Many of my friends with MS don’t venture out much and the lock down didn’t change their lives that much.

    My “depression” (actually anger) comes with the hope that comes with the big MS conferences and then the disappointment which comes when the trials are negative. I was so hopeful for anti-lingo…..etc etc. I’m not getting my hopes up for ACTRIMS / ECTRIMS. The other source of my anger is the way MS (I’ve had it 15 years) gets worse and worse as the scientists unreal the onion. It started off as auto-immune when I was diagnosed it is now referrred to as neurodegenerative and likened more to Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. MS is a systemic disease which can affect every function and organ. Its these sortS of findings that keep me awake at night:


  • It’s been very curious. At the outset, I went into shock, which destroyed sleep patterns and caused me to shed four pounds over one weekend, which considering many failed attempts at dieting, was extraordinary (and the weight hasn’t come back). I felt depressed and scared, the only surprise being that the MS didn’t appear to be worsening, apart from a bit more tingling at times. My weekly exercise routine (4 pool-based classes) packed up and in desperation I engaged a personal trainer from my club to do virtual one-to-one hour sessions via Messenger. Since the end of March I’ve seen him three times a week but that apart have hardly left the house. Last month I had a full physio assessment, because I needed to know the effects of so much isolation/departure from routine/lack of walking on the MS. Nothing had deteriorated and I was found to have increased strength and flexibility on quads and to have REGAINED previously lost dorsiflexion. This is the biggest ‘shot in the arm’ I’ve had for ages and now both the physio and the trainer are hopeful for further gains. I still can’t bear to turn on the news and occasionally have sleepless nights but I make myself focus on these health outcomes – as being the only things at least partially within my control.

  • It would be easy to conclude that those of us with long-time MS are just so used to shit happening that our response to more shit happening is a ‘whatever’ shrug. We’ve long since waved farewell to things like brilliant careers and huge mortgages and keeping up with the Joneses in terms of BMWs and exotic holidays (if we ever did care for such things). So in a sense we tend, as a population, to have less to lose in financial and social status terms at least. MS as an aid to equanimity, perhaps? Now there’s a thought.

    But in another sense, maybe we’re just having an easier time than our peers: PWMS are less likely on average than their age-matched counterparts to be trying, for instance, to hold down a demanding job while home-schooling etc. We are less likely to be the go-to sibling when it comes to supporting the family’s old folks. All those things that are making life so very hard to manage for some of our non-MS peers. In other words, it’s probably complicated – it usually is.

    • Both holding down a demanding job and was also homeschooling young children during the lockdown – not all pwMS fit this generalisation, I am otherwise completely fit and healthy..

      I do agree with the initial shock as per the poster above though, I also dropped 4lb in one weekend! Mine has come back though! The worst thing about covid for me is the amount of obsessive reading about MS it has led to for me. Previously I was happily on my treatment and doing fine. Now I’m still doing fine but have a feeling of doom about the future etc all because of reading so much extra stuff. It proves that a healthy happy mind is half the battle for me!

  • I think things are going to get very messy this winter and I will be shocked if I survive covid.
    Speaking from my own rose tinted perspective, I have enjoyed having the family at home for what could be my last summer. In adversity I look for the silver lining, there is always something if you look hard enough, and what I see in covid is the potential stunting of my ms journey.
    Time will tell. I hope an effective vaccine is found and people can get their lives back on track. If not then I am ready to take my sedated spot in the corridor. I will say f u ms covid is taking you down. 🙂

  • Many MS patients, especially those with higher EDSS, have been living in a COVID like world for some time.

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