Multiple Sclerosis and Depression

Depression is fairly common in those who have multiple sclerosis. Fortunately, your healthcare team can suggest different ways of managing it. Medications can be helpful, and support groups offer a place to talk about your feelings with others who are in a similar situation. You do not have to live with depression -- it's an easily treated condition, and various options are available.

Is There a Link Between Multiple Sclerosis and Depression?

Depression can happen to anyone, but it appears to be much more common in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). Researchers are not sure why this is so common, but it might be a natural reaction to:
 
  • Finding out you have an unpredictable illness
  • The difficulty of dealing with stress at work and at home
  • Multiple sclerosis itself.
     
People often have a "tough day" or occasional feelings of sadness and later feel "back to normal." An occasional bad day is not the same as depression. People who are depressed often feel that every part of their life is affected. Fatigue seems worse when an individual is depressed, and you may be irritable towards the people you are closest to. At its worst, depression can even make you feel like you don't want to live.
 
If these feelings continue for two weeks or longer, you may not just have the "blues" -- you may have depression.
 

Discussing Depression Due to Multiple Sclerosis

Feelings of depression that interfere with daily life are important to discuss with your healthcare team. This condition can be treated, and you can feel better -- you may even feel better just knowing that feelings of despair can be treated. Be part of the treatment decisions you discuss with your healthcare team.
 
If you are feeling that your life is not worth living, you need to call your healthcare provider immediately and let him or her know. There are ways to treat depression, including medications. You and your healthcare provider should work together to find a medication that helps you feel better.
 
Support groups are also helpful. It is good to have someone to talk to who knows how you feel. Remember that depression is not your fault. Talk about how you feel and get treatment so you can begin to feel better. Depression is recognized as an illness, and treatment is available.
 
Written by/reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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