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Psychosom Med. 2002 Nov-Dec;64(6):916-20.

Stressful life events precede exacerbations of multiple sclerosis.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. ackermankd@msx.upmc.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

We longitudinally monitored life events and health changes in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) to determine whether stressful events may trigger exacerbation of MS.

METHODS:

Twenty-three women with MS were followed for 1 year. Each subject completed the Psychiatric Epidemiologic Research Interview on a weekly basis. Further information on potentially stressful events was acquired using the Life Events and Difficulties Schedule. Neurologic symptoms were also monitored on a weekly basis throughout the year. Potential MS exacerbations were confirmed by a neurologist who was blind to the presence and timing of stressors.

RESULTS:

Eighty-five percent of MS exacerbations were associated with stressful life events in the preceding 6 weeks. Stressful life events occurred an average of 14 days before MS exacerbations, compared with 33 days before a randomly selected control date (p < .0001). Survival analysis confirmed that an increase in frequency of life events was associated with greater likelihood of MS exacerbations (hazard ratio = 13.18, p < .05).

CONCLUSIONS:

These results are consistent with the hypothesis that stress is a potential trigger of disease activity in patients with relapsing-remitting MS.

PMID:
12461197
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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