Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients have high rates of complications and disability, including cognitive impairment, that often, impact on caregivers' emotional health. Clarification may help identify improved supportive strategies for both caregivers and patients.
Objective: We aimed to analyse whether MS domain-specific cognitive impairment can influence the severity of psychiatric symptoms of MS caregivers.
Methods: Patients with definite MS (n = 63) and their corresponding caregivers (n = 63) were recruited. In addition, 59 matched controls were enrolled for establishing normative cognitive data. Each patient underwent a complete neuropsychological testing for cognitive impairment and thorough clinical assessment, including data of disability status (EDSS), affective and emotional symptoms (depression, anxiety, anger) and fatigue. Psychiatric symptoms of the caregivers were assessed with the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI).
Results: In logistic regression analyses, even after controlling for other MS-related symptoms, cognitive deficits, namely impairment on Symbol Digit Modalities Test (OR = 8.03, 95% CI = 1.27–25.33, p = 0.027) and on the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (OR = 6.86, 95% CI = 1.07–21.97, p = 0.042), were significant and independent predictors of more severe caregivers' depressive symptoms.
Conclusions: Information processing speed impairment is independently associated with more severe depressive symptoms of caregivers of MS patients, thereby reflecting a further deterioration of family setting.