The first year after diagnosis: psychological impact on people with multiple sclerosis

M. F. Possa, E. Minacapelli, S. Canale, G. Comi, V. Martinelli, M. Falautano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The impact of multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis on newly diagnosed individuals remains so far little explored. Our aim is to outline affective, personality and quality of life (QoL) correlates of MS patients shortly after MS diagnosis. Thirty-eight (22 F and 16 M) newly-diagnosed MS patients (mean interval from diagnosis communication 4.7 ± 3.8 months, range 1–12 months) underwent the Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale and a comprehensive psychological evaluation: Beck Depression Inventory-II, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Psychophysiological Questionnaire-Revised, Fear Survey Schedule, Maudsley Obsessional-Compulsive Questionnaire, Impact of Event Scale-Revised, Personal Meaning Questionnaire, Problem Solving Inventory and Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life-54. The Expanded Disability Status Scale was assessed during the neurological examination. Depressive symptomatology, only partially related to disability, was observed in approximately 40% of patients. The prevalent approach to MS diagnosis was one of avoidance in 65.8% of cases. QoL reductions in self-perception and psychological well-being emerged, together with a peculiar perception of change in health that was not related to neurological disability. With regard to personality assessment, depressive personal meaning organization correlates inversely with important QoL measures. Newly-diagnosed patients go through a complex network of psychological changes still in the initial phases immediately after diagnosis. A thorough understanding of these adjusting aspects by the neurologist could be crucial in improving patients’ QoL, participation in relevant disease decisions and adherence to pharmacological therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1071
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology, Health and Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 21 2017


  • depression
  • Early MS phase
  • personality
  • quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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