Multiple Sclerosis and Depression
Since one tends to aggravate the other, the relationship between Multiple Sclerosis and depression is quite complicated. Additionally, depression has several of the same symptoms that MS has, which makes it difficult to determine which disorder is to blame.
For example, MS can cause you to sleep more, or experience more sleeplessness, it can cause you to be confused and make it difficult to make decisions. Also, MS tends to slow individuals down drastically and cause unnatural fatigue. Those who suffer from MS may feel guilty that they can’t complete an assignment or follow through on promises made to family and friends. The combination of these symptoms together makes it hard to do the things that we enjoy, especially sports and other physical activities. Due to the overlap of the symptoms, many individuals get misdiagnosed as having depression. Then, on the other hand, there are those who are diagnosed with MS that have undiagnosed depression.
Here’s a little bit of guidance. If you are suffering from MS and you have strong feelings of sadness or have no interest in the things that are around you, seek immediate help. Start with your personal physician or call your local MS Society to seek recommendations on a psychiatrist. It is very important that you see a doctor who is familiar with dealing with patients who have MS, as the criteria for depression must be interpreted and applied properly and the correct medications prescribed or changed.
Depression is a treatable condition, so whether or not you meet all of the criteria for depression, leave the official diagnosis the professionals. Individuals with MS already have enough to deal with, and depression can aggravate the condition because it has an effect on the way you care for yourself.
What does depression feel like? The following criteria are used by mental health professionals to diagnose clinical depression. You are most likely clinically depressed if your depressive episode has lasted at least two weeks with five of these symptoms.
Sadness: Depressed, sad, or tearful much of the time. You may notice this in yourself, but it is especially important if others notice it too.
Loss of interest: No longer have interest in those things you used to enjoy.
Appetite change: Eating more or less than usual, or weight gain or loss without trying to gain or lose.
Sleep problems: Not sleeping or sleeping too much.
Psychomotor Agitation/Retardation: Agitated and restless or slowed down so that others notice.
Fatigue: Extremely tired and no energy.
Feelings of Guilt: Worthless or guilty feeling about things done or not done.
Cognitive problems: Difficulty concentrating or organizing thoughts and making daily choices.
Suicidal thoughts: Considering killing yourself.
How common is depression in individuals with Multiple Sclerosis? Approximately fifty percent of individuals with MS experience symptoms of minor or major depression at some point in their lives. About fourteen percent of individuals suffering from MS are depressed at any given moment. If depression is left untreated, it can lead to suicide. Individuals with MS are two to seven and a half more times likely to commit suicide than the general population.