Depressive symptoms and coping in newly diagnosed patients with multiple sclerosis

K Lode, E Bru, G Klevan, K M Myhr, H Nyland, J P Larsen
Multiple Sclerosis: Clinical and Laboratory Research 2009, 15 (5): 638-43

BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease with unclear etiology, unpredictable clinical course, and no cure. Patients' ability to cope with MS moderates the adaptation to the disease.

OBJECTIVES: To compare coping in patients recently diagnosed with MS and healthy controls and to study the association between depressive symptoms and patients' coping styles.

METHODS: A sample of 86 recently diagnosed patients with definite or probable MS and 93 healthy population controls completed questionnaires assessing coping styles and depressive symptoms.

RESULTS: Compared with healthy controls, patients with MS used significantly less the problem focused strategies including planning, restraint coping, and seeking social support for instrumental reasons, and they used less the emotion-focused strategies seeking social support for emotional reasons, focusing on and venting of emotions, and positive reinterpretation and growth. The mean Beck Depressive symptoms Inventory scores were 10.8 and 4.7 in patients and controls, respectively. In stress situations connected to MS, depressive symptoms in these patients were related to the problem-focused strategies of restraint coping and planning, the emotion-focused strategy of focusing on and venting of emotions, and the avoidance strategies of behavioral- and mental disengagements, and denial.

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