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Rehabil Psychol. 2010 Aug;55(3):255-62. doi: 10.1037/a0020492.

Comorbid anxiety disorders and treatment of depression in people with multiple sclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, 680 N. Lake Shore Drive, Suite 1220, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.



Anxiety is highly comorbid with depression, but little is known about the impact of anxiety disorders on the effectiveness of empirically supported psychotherapies for depression. We examined such outcomes for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and depression, with versus without comorbid anxiety disorders.


Participants with MS (N = 102) received 16 weeks of telephone-administered psychotherapy for depression and were followed for one year post-treatment.


Participants with comorbid anxiety disorders improved to a similar degree during treatment as those without anxiety disorders. Outcomes during follow-up were mixed, and thus we divided the anxiety diagnoses into distress and fear disorders. The distress disorder (GAD) was associated with elevated anxiety symptoms during and after treatment. In contrast, fear disorders (i.e., panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, specific phobia) were linked to depression, specifically during follow-up, across 3 different measures.


People with GAD receiving treatment for depression may benefit from additional services targeting anxiety more specifically, while those with comorbid fear disorders may benefit from services targeting maintenance of gains after treatment.

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