Personality traits in multiple sclerosis: association with mood and anxiety disorders

J Psychosom Res. 2011 May;70(5):479-85. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2010.12.010. Epub 2011 Feb 16.


Background: Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) frequently experience depression and anxiety. Several studies also document personality differences between MS patients and controls. Few studies, however, have examined the relationship between mood/anxiety and core personality traits in MS.

Objectives: The purpose of the present investigation was to examine the association between anxiety, mood, and personality disturbances in MS.

Methods: A structured psychiatric interview and validated self-report measures of personality, depression, and anxiety were administered to 85 MS patients and 20 normal controls.

Results: Findings suggested a significant association between psychopathology and core personality dysfunction in MS. Depressed/anxious MS patients exhibited more neuroticism, less extroversion, less agreeableness, and less conscientiousness than mentally healthy MS patients and normal controls. In contrast, nondepressed/nonanxious MS patients' core personality traits did not substantially differ from normal controls.

Conclusions: Though longitudinal studies are needed, findings provide hope that the successful treatment of MS patients' mood and anxiety symptoms may also partially ameliorate disordered personality characteristics. Consistent with previous research, an increased understanding of MS patients' personality characteristics may also aid with preventative psychiatric and medical treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety Disorders / complications
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / complications
  • Mood Disorders / psychology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology*
  • Personality Disorders / complications
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Personality Disorders / psychology
  • Personality Inventory
  • Personality*
  • Self Report