Depression & emotions

Depression is a term applied to a wide variety of emotional states of mental health in multiple sclerosis. These may range from feeling down for a few hours on a given day to severe clinical depression that may last for several months. People with multiple sclerosis and all those closely associated with them should be aware that depression in its various forms and other mental health issues are common during the course of multiple sclerosis.

Depression does not indicate weak character and it should not be considered something shameful that needs to be hidden. Depression is not something that a person can control or prevent by willpower or determination. In its most severe forms, depression appears to be a chemical imbalance that may occur at any time, even when life is going well.

While we still do not fully understand the nature of depression in multiple sclerosis, we have learned much about it in recent years:

  • Depression may be "reactive" — the result of difficult life situations or stresses. It is easy to understand how a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, a chronic condition with the potential for progressing to permanent disability, can bring on depression.
  • Depression may also be a result of the disease process itself, since multiple sclerosis damages the myelin and nerve fibres deep within the brain. If multiple sclerosis damages areas of the brain that are involved in emotional expression and control, a variety of behavioural changes can result, including depression.
  • Depression may also be associated with disease-related changes that occur in the immune and/or neuroendocrine systems. For example, there is some evidence that changes in mood are accompanied by changes in certain immune parameters in people with multiple sclerosis.
  • Depression can also be a side effect of some drugs, such as steroids.
  • It is also important to keep in mind that depression occurs in people who do not have MS and is a widespread problem in society in general.

Find out more about symptoms, complications, assessment and treatment Icon

Learn more: publications

Managing depression Icon


Learn more: previous webinars

Live Well with MS - Managing Depression

Dr Catherine Condon, Counselling Neuropsychologist will discuss depression in multiple sclerosis and help us understand management strategies.

Recorded June 2016 (Download slides)

Mood & emotions multiple sclerosis - causes and treatments

Research shows that mood difficulties and emotional changes are very common in people with MS. There is increasing evidence that tensions and anxiety are more frequently reported by people with MS than others in the community.

Depression and anxiety can affect thinking and memory, and can exacerbate other MS symptoms such as fatigue and pain.

This session will discuss the reason for mood and emotional changes in MS, as well as various treatment options, such as self management, psychological therapy and medication.

Catherine Condon, Counselling Neuropsychologist, leads this program.

Recorded October 2014 (Download slides).

Acceptance & commitment therapy

Are you struggling with your multiple sclerosis? Would you like to hear about ways to improve your quality of life?

Clinical Psychologist, Birgit O’Sheedy will be our webinar presenter, she will explain ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) as a way of dealing with uncomfortable emotions, learning to accept multiple sclerosis as part of life and developing strategies to deal with difficult thoughts.

Recorded February 2015 (Download slides).

Learn more: upcoming programs

Visit our MS Education section to learn more about upcoming programs. For more information or to register please email or call MS Connect™ (Freecall 1800 042 138).

Learn more

Find support in your local area

Find information, support and services in your local area – whether you’re a person living with multiple sclerosis, or a family member, friend or carer.

Newly Diagnosed

A multiple sclerosis diagnosis can be extremely difficult to come to grips with. All of a sudden there is a lot of new information to absorb, questions to ask and key decisions to make. We're here for you - from the day you're diagnosed and each day after.


Dig deeper with a wealth of publications on a wealth of topics including symptom management, wellness, disease information, booklets for family and carers and more.

Call Us - 1800 042 138

MS Connect is our free telephone and email information support and referral service.

Register with MS

By registering with MS you can access our full range of services and support.

Stay informed with the latest from MS


Connect with us...