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The Complexities of Depression and Multiple Sclerosis: A Closer Look

The Complexities of Depression and Multiple Sclerosis: A Closer Look

Imagine having to depend on somebody else because you are unable to perform simple everyday tasks? Psychologically, this can be devastating. A patient of multiple sclerosis, especially in the advanced stages, will need support and assistance throughout the day. This overdependence on others can lead to depression.

Through this blog, let’s delve into the nuanced relationship between multiple sclerosis and depression, examining its manifestations, potential causes, and strategies for managing and treating this co-occurring condition.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

An autoimmune, neurodegenerative and inflammatory condition,  Multiple Sclerosis (MS) attacks the central nervous system (CNS). It disrupts the working of the immune system, and makes it attack healthy cells in the body.

As a demyelinating disorder of the CNS, MS is caused by damage to the myelin sheath (a thin layer covering the axons of the neuron). When the myelin along with the nerve fibers are attacked and destroyed, scar tissue and inflammation disrupts the communication routes between the CNS and the rest of the body. As the condition progresses, it can cause various impairments in the body, especially in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.

You can read about vision problems in MS here.

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Every MS case is different, so too are their accompanying symptoms. However, there are some common symptoms that we need to keep in mind.

  • Trouble walking
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness or spasms
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Sexual problems
  • Poor bladder or bowel control
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Lack of memory or focus

While the earliest signs of MS can show up between the ages of 20 and 40 years, research indicates that accompanying neuropsychiatric disorders can aggravate the symptoms too. In many cases, it is the emotional challenges that make it harder to live with MS.

Multiple Sclerosis and Depression

We know MS can do to a person’s body. Severe motor and cognitive dysfunction can lead to feeling despondent and dejected. When MS destroys the myelin sheath, it also leads to degeneration of nerves that affect our mood. The complexities of MS extend beyond the physical, as individuals with the condition may also grapple with mental health challenges, with depression being one of the most common comorbidities. This is why we recommend keeping your doctor informed and even seeking the help of a therapist or counselor to prevent a mental collapse.

Depression in individuals with multiple sclerosis is a multifaceted issue. It can be a symptom of the neurological condition itself, influenced by the impact of MS on the brain and nervous system. Below are the signs of depression in MS needs to watch out for:

  • Fatigue and overtiredness
  • Indecisiveness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Impaired memory
  • Despondency
  • Feeling hopeless

Depression and Anxiety in Multiple Sclerosis

In some individuals with MS, depression often coexists with anxiety. This can create a rather complex interplay of emotional and physical symptoms. The uncertainty of living with a chronic and unpredictable condition can contribute to heightened levels of stress, inadvertently exacerbating both depression and anxiety.

Myths about Multiple Sclerosis and Depression

It is important to bear in mind that all of these symptoms can just be relating to MS alone and need not indicate depression. However, MS’ impact on a person’s cognitive capabilities can adversely affect a person’s self-image and worth. If not addressed, this can lead to depression. 

Let’s bust some misconceptions regarding MS and depression.

Everyone with MS will be depressed

Absolutely untrue.

Symptoms as well as the ability to adapt differ from patient to patient. If one is resilient in coping with stress, the chances of developing depression are very low. Consider this: only 50% of MS patients develop depression. Consulting a therapist, who will prepare the patient to fight the adversities of MS, can help them come to terms with their condition.

People with MS always look and act depressed

What looks like depression may just be fatigue and poor concentration.

Grief is depression

Unfortunately, the words “grief” and “depression” are often used interchangeably without considering the medical implications of the latter. Losing the ability to walk properly, impaired vision, and feeling tired all the time are likely to make a person sad. But is it always depression? No. Grief is a temporary reaction to loss — whether of a loved one or one’s ability to lead a normal life.

Treatment for Depression in Multiple Sclerosis

MS is one of the few serious neurological disorders whose progression can be stalled with timely intervention. Recognizing depression as a symptom of MS highlights the significance of holistic approaches to treatment. At Plexus, we believe in going beyond conventional treatment approaches. Our customized MS Rehabilitation packages constitute a multidisciplinary approach from therapeutic and psychosocial interventions to lifestyle modifications, counseling and emotional support. 

We help manage the condition and its related symptoms, as well as increase the individual’s day-to-day functionality, and improve their social-communication skills.

Our MS rehabilitation program includes:

Stem cell therapy — A non-surgical procedure in which autologous mesenchymal cells are injected into the patient’s body to replace the damaged cells.

Physiotherapy —  Improves mobility, posture, and balance.

Occupational therapy — Fosters independence by improving daily functionality. 

Speech therapy — Helps the patient regain their non-verbal and verbal communication skills.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based intervention – Provide essential tools for coping with the emotional challenges of MS.

At Plexus’ Neuropsychiatric Care Clinic, we help you lead a life that is purposeful. Depression does not have to diminish the quality of your life. Timely diagnosis and attention can help save many lives.


Can I live a happy life with MS?

Of course! With a multidisciplinary approach that includes proper medical care, therapeutic interventions, emotional support, and lifestyle adjustments, you can find joy and purpose. Additionally, adapting to challenges, embracing a positive mindset, and seeking support can immensely contribute towards a fulfilling life despite your MS diagnosis.

Is depression associated with multiple sclerosis?

Depression is commonly associated with multiple sclerosis. The physical complexities of the condition often take an emotional toll on the patient. It is important to recognise and address depression as part of the comprehensive treatment plan for MS. At Plexus, we understand the emotional upheaval an MS diagnosis and living with the condition can cause. This is why our holistic rehabilitation programs for MS offer psychotherapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy to support the individual’s emotional well-being.

Does MS affect you mentally?

Yes, the complexities of managing a chronic and unpredictable condition like multiple sclerosis can contribute to emotional challenges. It is absolutely critical to understand, recognise, and address depression, anxiety, and/or any other mental health condition in order to be able to lead a purposeful life.

How long does MS depression last?

This duration can vary. It can be episodic or chronic, sometimes lasting for weeks, months, or even years. Early recognition and intervention, along with comprehensive care and ongoing support are crucial for managing depression effectively and enhancing the overall quality of life for individuals with multiple sclerosis.

What is end stage MS like?

End-stage MS comes with severe physical limitations. Some people experience complete disability, immobility, and difficulties with daily tasks. Advanced symptoms, such as respiratory issues and complications, have been known to impact overall quality of life. At such times, palliative care can provide comfort, symptomatic relief and management, as well as support for the individual and their caregivers.

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