On the MSAA helpline we are often asked the question if depression and anxiety are common with MS. Those diagnosed and/or their loved ones reach out wondering about these symptoms and if others experience them too. The answer is yes. These symptoms can be very common with MS and are experienced by many with the disease. Questions about why and how, are ones still being researched to this day. And in a year like we’ve had, will probably be highlighted even more so moving forward.
There are many factors that connect these symptoms to MS and the disease course. MS can affect parts of the brain that help to control and regulate emotions and behaviors. Side effects of medications, other symptoms, and changes in the body due to MS can also contribute to depression and anxiety. And let’s not forget the general life stressors and daily changes encountered all the time.
Learning that depression and anxiety are common with MS and happens to others can help to alleviate some of the stress and burden felt when questioning the symptoms. And though that doesn’t always necessarily make it easier to cope with or manage, finding validation and support are definitely helpful keys. The first step is talking about it. Finding someone trusted to confide in and disclose what you’re feeling is an action you owe yourself to take. There may be things that are out of your control when it comes to MS. But your ability and strength to share what you’re feeling is not lost.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, or even if you’re really not sure what it is that you’re feeling, talk to your doctor. Be open and honest about what’s going on. If you or others around you have concerns or questions, bring them up. And if you feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about symptoms with certain people in your life, then choose that one person you know will listen without judgment and that you would trust. Whether that’s a medical professional or starting the conversation with someone close to you. Do yourself that justice and reach out for support. There are many ways that depression and anxiety can be treated and managed, and you deserve to have it be so.