Depression, Anxiety, and MS: What’s the Connection?
When people talk about common symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) they usually mention issues like vision problems, tingling and numbness, and fatigue. Mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety rarely make it on to that list, but they should.
Depression is one of the most common MS symptoms, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS). Clinical depression — the most severe form of the disorder — is more frequent among people who have MS than it is in the general population.
Severe depression can be life-threatening, because it may include suicidal feelings and ideation. According to a research article published in Multiple Sclerosis Journal in March 2017, the rates of both suicide and suicidal intent are higher in people with MS compared to the general population.
The unpredictability of MS and the life changes it can cause can understandably lead to depression. However, depression is just as common in other immune-mediated, neuroinflammatory diseases, suggesting that inflammation may play a role in the condition, per the NMSS.
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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).
In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.
Signs and symptoms of MS vary widely and depend on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves are affected. Some people with severe MS may lose the ability to walk independently or at all, while others may experience long periods of remission without any new symptoms.
There’s no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, treatments can help speed recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and manage symptoms.