What is depression?
Depression is not uncommon in people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). In fact, about half of all people who have MS may be diagnosed with depression at some time in their lives. Luckily, there are resources to help you deal with depression and alleviate the symptoms.
If you think you may be depressed, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider about what you’re feeling right away. If left untreated, depression may get worse and even become harder to treat. A proper diagnosis is the first step in creating a plan to help you feel better.
Are you depressed? Signs can include:
- A feeling of sadness that doesn’t go away after 2 weeks
- Loss of interest or pleasure in everyday activities
- Loss of, or increase in, appetite
- Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
- Fatigue that lingers or worsens
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Problems with thinking or concentration
- Ongoing thoughts of death or suicide
Other factors in depression
Although the relationship between depression and MS is not fully understood, many factors may contribute to it.
- The stress and isolation of dealing with the diagnosis of MS, and the possibility of being disabled, can bring on depression.
- The disease process of MS itself may also contribute to developing depression—depression may be associated with MS-related changes that occur in the parts of your brain responsible for signaling your glands to release the proper hormones.
- If MS damages areas of the brain that are involved in emotional expression and control, a variety of behavioral changes can result, including depression.
- Depression is also a serious side effect of some medications.
There’s no need to take on depression by yourself
- Your healthcare provider can recommend a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or even a support group you may want to attend
- You can also find support groups through your local National Multiple Sclerosis Society chapter at nationalmssociety.org or 1-800-344-4867
- Therapy is covered under most insurance plans
- MentalHealthAmerica.net can give you a quick mental health screening and connect you to helpful resources in your area
IF YOU THINK YOU OR A LOVED ONE MAY BE DEPRESSED
contact your healthcare provider immediately. If you or a loved one have thoughts of death or suicide, give the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Hotline a call at 1-800-273-8255.
Depression does not mean you are weak
- There is nothing to be ashamed about
- Many people suffer from depression
- It is important you get the help you need