Emotional feeling in patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Johanna Unglik, Catherine Bungener, Daniel Delgadillo, François Salachas, Pierre François Pradat, Gaëlle Bruneteau, Timothée Lenglet, Nadine Le Forestier, Philippe Couratier, Yannick Vacher, Lucette Lacomblez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal and progressive neurodegenerative disorder involving motor neurons of the cerebral cortex, brain stem and spinal cord. Besides the motor signs, cognitive disorders and apathy may be present and may impact the survival time. These elements are therefore to be taken into consideration for medical care because they can influence the disease evolution. The literature shows low psychopathological disorders in this population despite its poor prognosis. The main objective of this study is to explore the emotional feeling in apathetic and non-apathetic patients in relation to their anxiety and depressive symptoms. METHODS: We included 152 patients at the day hospital for the follow-up of their illness, with an average age of 61±12.2 years. All filled the following self-administered questionnaires: EPN-31 (emotional feeling), HADS (for anxiety and depressive symptoms) and the Marin's apathy evaluation scale. Most of the patients (n=110) had also a cognitive assessment with the ALS-CBS scale. RESULTS: 42% of patients could be considered as apathetic and they felt both positive and negative emotions whose frequency was related to the presence and intensity of anxiety and depressive symptoms. The only significant differences were that apathetic and anxious patients experienced more negative emotions including sadness, shame and anger than non-apathetic and anxious patients. Apathy was negatively correlated with cognitive functioning and survival time. CONCLUSIONS: These results highlighted the negative impact that apathy seemed to have on the evolution of this disease. However, apathetic patients didn't show emotional blunting and were able to name and feel positive and negative emotions; and even feel more negative emotions than non-apathetic patients when they were anxious. A better understanding of apathetic and no apathetic patients' emotional feelings should lead to a more personalized care for the ALS patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-422
Number of pages9
JournalGeriatrie et psychologie neuropsychiatrie du vieillissement
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Dec 2018


  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • anxiety
  • apathy
  • depressive symptoms
  • emotion


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