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Depression and MS: Symptoms and Management

Depression is something many people struggle with, but one demographic has particularly high numbers: 30-50% of those with chronic pain conditions also have depression. The loss of an active life, dealing with daily pain and often, not having answers contributes to this condition. Other things, like lack of sleep, and isolation, can also play a role.

Individuals with MS fall into the category of those vulnerable to depression. There are a variety of mood disorders those with MS generally portray.

Mood Disorders Reported in MS

  • Adjustment Disorders: Temporary struggle to adjust to a new situation.

  • Major Depressive Disorder: Most concerning in MS

  • Bipolar Disorder: Manic/depressive states

  • Anxiety Disorder: Extreme worry or fear -- more common in MS than depression

  • PBA (Involuntary Expressive Emotional Disorder) (involuntary laughing or crying)

Those with MS have a 50% lifetime risk for depression, according to Frederick Foley, Ph.D., director of clinical psychology at the Holy Name Medical Center Multiple Sclerosis Center. This can be caused by genetics, a brain lesion or a situational event. It's important to know that no matter how you experience depression, it can be treated.

Symptoms of Major Depression

  • Sad mood most of the day, everyday

  • Persistence of sad mood over 2 weeks

  • Loss of interest in usual activities

  • Inability to feel pleasure

  • Sleep disturbance

  • Fatigue

  • Changes in Appetite

  • Social withdrawal

  • Suicidal thoughts

In this video from the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC), Foley explains the risks and treatments of depression for people with MS:

Depression and MS

If you have MS and are suffering from depression, be sure to speak with your physician about it immediately. There are a variety of ways to combat this condition, including medication, talk therapy, community groups, and more. Depression can feel isolating and as if it will never go away. But there is hope and there are options.

Thanks to the great work of CMSC for providing incredible material and resources for the MS community to learn from!

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