Stress management and multiple sclerosis: a randomized controlled trial

Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2012 Jun;27(4):406-16. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acs039. Epub 2012 Apr 3.


There is a well-established adverse reciprocal relationship between stress and multiple sclerosis (MS). However, stress management in these patients has been parsimoniously studied. In this parallel randomized controlled trial, relapsing-remitting MS patients were randomly assigned to undergo either an 8-week stress management program (n=31; relaxation breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, twice a day) or not (n=30). Self-reported validated measures were used to evaluate perceived stress, health locus of control, anxiety, and depression. Daily diaries of MS symptoms were also kept by patients. In patients in the intervention group, perceived stress and symptoms of depression were significantly decreased after 8 weeks of relaxation. Repeated measures analyses showed significant group-by-time interactions for both the number of weekly symptoms and the mean intensity per symptom. No other significant change was reported. We deem that our results should encourage future studies that will incorporate more objective clinical and laboratory outcomes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / psychology*
  • Relaxation Therapy / methods*
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome