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.

Create your own personalised symptom report using the Get your ACT together tool. The content is designed for people in the ACT, however it’s filled with information and handy tips and tricks that are useful for all people living with multiple sclerosis, wherever you live. The tool focuses on emotions, fatigue and continence, cognition, heat sensitivity, and pain.

Learn more: publications

Symptoms: Depression Icon

Learn more: Get Your ACT Together online tool

To hear more symptom management strategies try the Get Your ACT Together online tool which provides you with a personalised symptom management report.

Learn more: previous webinars

Depression and multiple sclerosis

This webinar is presented by psychologist, Dr Sally Shaw and is all about depression in multiple sclerosis. Sally will explore the importance of coping strategies to assist manage depression in multiple sclerosis. 

Recorded July 2018 (Handout 1Handout 2)

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).

Symptom management

There are several treatments available to ease specific symptoms and slow the progression of multiple sclerosis.

Support & services

You don’t have to explain yourself to us – we already get it – and we are here to help you and your family with all these things and more, while the search for a cure continues.

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