Depression and Multiple Sclerosis
Depression is a complication in most chronic disease processes. It prohibits the patient from healing, makes symptoms like pain more difficult to manage and generally decreases the patients' quality of life.
For those who deal with chronically ill patients, this is not new information. However, with Multiple Sclerosis, depression is not just a complication, but could actually be one of the presenting symptoms of the disease.
The national MS Society and the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America have presented research on this topic. Most healthcare providers miss the symptoms and do not realize that this could be a presenting symptom for the disease.
There are several causes of depression related to MS that include:
Chemical changes that occur within the body and the brain can affect mood. For instance, studies find that the expression of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and other Th 1-type cytokines (pro-inflammatory protein molecules involved in cell-to-cell communications, shown to worsen MS) correlate with depression scores during an acute exacerbation.
Fatigue is the most disabling of all MS symptoms. When we are exhausted, we are much more likely to feel depressed. We simply do not have the emotional energy to fight depression.
Some of the medications prescribed to MS patients may be linked to depression. Steroids top the list. These are often prescribed during exacerbations when patients are already vulnerable to depressive symptoms.
Some facts about depression and MS include:
When depression occurs, it deserves the same careful assessment and treatment as any other symptoms of MS.
Psychotherapy and/or antidepressant medication are generally needed to treat the condition adequately and prevent an even deeper depression.
Some ideas to mitigate depression symptoms and maintain well-balanced health with MS include:
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