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

New Year's Resolution - Beat the Blues

Many people living with multiple sclerosis will experience depression at some stage. The new year is a great time to put some strategies and supports in place. Dr Sally Shaw explains depression in MS and guides us through some management strategies. (Recorded 15 Jan 2020)

Webinar Handouts: New Year's Resolution - Beat the Blues

New Year's Resolution - Manage my Anxiety

Louise Pearson, Accredited Mental Health Social worker, counselor and Gestalt Psychotherapist will lead this session and give us tips and strategies to manage anxiety. (Recorded 21 Jan 2020)

Webinar Handouts: New Year's Resolution - Manage my Anxiety

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).

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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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