Pain, fatigue, and depression are prevalent symptoms that have significant, negative impacts on function in individuals who have had multiple sclerosis (MS) for many years. Little is known regarding the presence and impact of these symptoms on quality of life (QOL) among individuals with a recent MS diagnosis. Understanding the evolution of these symptoms can inform efforts for early intervention. To address this knowledge gap, we assessed average pain intensity in the past week (0-10 NRS), depressive symptoms (PHQ-9), fatigue severity (FSS), and QOL (MSQOL-54) in 135 individuals who had been diagnosed with MS within the past month. On average, symptoms were in the mild range (pain NRS mean, 2.42 [SD = 2.40] PHQ-9 mean, 7.77 [SD = 5.62] FSS mean, 28.82 [SD = 24.01]) and QOL was higher than in previous studies (MSQOL-54 mean, 74.80 [SD = 14.84]). Pain, depression, fatigue, and QOL were all statistically significantly associated with one another (rs = 0.18 to 0.50). Results of a linear regression showed that, after controlling for age, gender, and MS subtype, pain intensity (t = -2.84, p < 0.01) and depressive symptoms (t = -4.64, p < 0.001) were associated significantly with QOL, but fatigue was not. Findings indicate that soon after an MS diagnosis, the intensity of pain, fatigue, and depressive symptoms is notably lower, and QOL is notably higher, relative to samples of people who have had MS for longer. However, despite the lower intensity, the symptoms have similar intercorrelations and similar relationships to QOL relative to other MS populations. The presence of these relationships so soon after the diagnosis, as well as the likelihood that the symptoms and their impact worsen over time, suggests an opportunity for preventive interventions that could maintain lower symptom intensity and minimize the negative impact on QOL as the disease progresses.
© 2017 Published by Elsevier Inc.