OBJECTIVES: To prospectively identify anxiety and depressive symptoms, and their predictors, during the multiple sclerosis (MS) peridiagnostic period. METHODS: The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) was administered during diagnostic workup (baseline), and one and six months after diagnosis disclosure, to SIMS-Trial participants (ISRCTN81072971). RESULTS: Of 197 screened patients, 120 (61%) were diagnosed with MS. At baseline, median HADS anxiety (HADS-A) score was 7.0 (interquartile range [IQR] 5.0-9.5), ≥8 (anxiety cut-off) in 43% (95% confidence interval [CI] 34%-52%). Median HADS depression (HADS-D) was 3.0 (IQR 1.0-5.0), ≥8 (depression cut-off) in 11% (95% CI 5%-16%). Independent predictors of anxiety were female sex (odds ratio [OR] 2.8, 95% CI 1.1-7.2) and HADS-D score (OR 20.8, 95% CI 2.5-175.5). The only predictor of depressive symptoms was HADS-A score (OR 20.0, 95% CI 2.8-260.9). Anxiety symptoms had decreased slightly but significantly (p<0.001) at six months. Depressive symptoms remained low. CONCLUSIONS: Anxiety was prominent in the period surrounding MS diagnosis disclosure, particularly in women. A slight but significant reduction occurred six months after diagnosis disclosure. Depressive symptoms were less common and stable over time. In addition to sex, depressive symptoms were the only variable independently associated with anxiety.
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