Friday, February 20, 2009

MS: Psychomatic, Neurologic, Mood Disorder, or Personaltiy?

In some cases of Multiple Sclerosis, there may be the potential of a misdiagnosis of Bipolar Disorder (or other mood disorder) instead of MS. This got me to thinking...

How many patients are diagnosed with a Mood Disorder or Mental Illness before they are later found to have multiple sclerosis?

In my case, I was diagnosed with depression years before developing optic neuritis and eventually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I find the following article abstract an exciting peak into the connection of cytokines (which help to regulate inflammation and immunity) and depressive symptoms. See Gold SM and Irwin MR. Depression and immunity: inflammation and depressive symptoms in multiple sclerosis. Neurologic Clinics. 2006 Aug; 24(3):507-19.

How many patients are diagnosed with a Psychosomatic Disorder or are told “It’s All In Your Head” when they experience neurological symptoms?

Meet Clare C. who is still yet-to-be-diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or other disease of the Central Nervous System. She is in what we refer to as Limboland having had periodic bouts of neurological symptoms, including Optic Neuritis, but no clear diagnosis.

“My first symptom came suddenly 6 months after the birth of my second Daughter in 2004. I woke up one day and my breakfast tasted like mould, my tea my toast. My sense of smell was affected too. It lasted six months and was fully normal after a year.”

Clare initially consulted with an Ear, Nose, Throat doctor, then later a neurologist who ordered MRIs which came back clear.

“In 2006 just a little while after my sense of smell had returned I started feeling numbness in my left eye, and left side of my face. Then I had started getting dizzy having vision problems, vertigo I felt like I was in a goldfish bowl looking out.”

It wasn’t until Clare began experiencing crippling headaches that she visited her doctor who referred her to a neurologist.

“The first appointment was pretty uneventful; although her first conclusion was that I probably had a trapped nerve in my neck and psychosomatic issues because I was in a foreign land (I am a British woman living in Germany). I took this at first with a pinch of salt and was pretty relieved that she hadn't spoken of serious illness.”

Read this post in its entirety:

Multiple Sclerosis: Psychosomatic, Neurologic, Mood Disorder, or Personality?


  1. Lisa, this is a very enlightening post. Liked it so much I linked to it on my blog.

  2. Thanks Mandy, I appreciate the link and shoutout.

    It is a topic which I'm intrigued by and hope to spend some more time delving into. As far as personalities go, the bunch of folks I encounter during physical therapy sessions (there are as many as 8 people all doing their own thing at once) seem to exhibit an optimism even while they bring physical and QOL complaints to the PT for assistance. I find it inspiring, especially considering the varied levels of disability involved.

  3. I have noticed so many misdirections in regards to health care. How have we survived as a people? How will we be looked upon in 100 years? Boogles the mind.

  4. Last year I was with my husband as we sat in the office of an esteemed MS researcher he had been seeing. His MS took a turn for the worse last year and severe, blinding headaches became a regular thing with him. The doctor was befuddled by Paul's new symptom. She literally looked down at his chart, "Headaches, that's not on your MRI. Maybe it's your heart, depression or anxiety." It was none of these, but his MS. She also did not believe his pain was anything other than psychosomatic.

    It is amazing to me to watch the medical community sort of deny the physical aspect of MS--especially when they don't know so much about the disease itself.

    Keep blogging. It's important to be heard on this.

  5. In 2003, I was hospitalized and the original diagnosis was possible MS. I had clonus and drop foot and partial paralysis on the left side...however my MRI's showed lesions on the LEFT side of my brain. The spinal tap was negative for MS. I was told it was psychological and I had conversion disorder. I have Trigeminal neuralgia, Cranial Nerve VI palsy, Sjogrens, peroneal neuropathy (left leg), double vision, nerve hearing loss on left side and now I have a problem with the electrical system of my heart. I wish someone could connect the dots. I feel like I am just whithering away. Glad I found this blog...thank you!