Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Multiple Sclerosis and Depression: Common Causes

Six years ago today I had an odd dream. It was of my grandmother coming into my bedroom to talk. I mumbled something (in the dream) about wanting to sleep a little longer and she laughed, saying that it was fine.

This was a Monday morning after Hurricane Isabel swept through the East Coast and Washington DC area. I was home alone when the power went out on the previous Friday morning which would ruin the mound of food I had just stocked our new freezer with. The power did not return until late Sunday evening.

I received a phone call later in the morning on Monday. My grandmother had passed away that morning. This turned out to be only the 2nd of too many devastating events which occurred during the most hellacious week I’ve ever experienced before or since. Hurricane. Death. Funeral (in Oklahoma). Family Violence. Police. Hospital. Panic Attacks (mine). Xanax. Delayed, then Cancelled Flights. Stuck in St.Louis. Missed Flights leaving DC for Indiana. Doctoral Oral Exams on following Monday.

After recovering, slightly, from all of the above, I knew I NEEDED HELP!!! As a result of the hellacious week, I had many reasons to be depressed. I found a therapist with whom I would develop a great working relationship, which certainly helped years later when I was being diagnosed with MS.

Common Causes of Depression

1. Disease Response

Experiencing a period of depression and uncertainty following the diagnosis of MS is not uncommon. It takes time to adjust to a “new reality” and grieve the loss of what was, or the loss of a planned future. I have observed that the first year post-diagnosis seems to be the most difficult one emotionally. However, most patients do eventually adjust to altered circumstances, even the ones which come from new disabilities, loss of employment or loss of relationships.

To be honest, I must admit that I’ve experienced the same post-diagnosis depression during each exacerbation. All of the uncertainties and fears come rushing back with each gain of unstable ground. If staying in a place of “emotion-centered” thoughts and avoiding constructive problem-solving skills, I become depressed more easily during and following a relapse. It takes time to come back around to acceptance.

Read this post in its entirety:

Mental Health and MS: Depression Causes


  1. When I first blogged about my depression and attempted suicide, I felt as if I exposed too much of myself. Many times, I thought about deleting that post. I am glad I did not delete the post because; I received many emails from people thanking me. That post made them keep from doing what I tried to do because of depression, pain and living with MS.

    I no longer feel shame and displaying a sign of weakness from talking about a dark period in my life. Thanks for sharing your moment of depression and helping to spread the word that depression is not a sign of weakness.

  2. Depression can be such a deep hole, and when you're in it, it's hard to imagine there will ever be any way out. It helps if family/friends know what depression looks like, and can see when you're heading into that really bad place.

    Scarecrow gets pretty directive (=bossy) when he sees me going there:

    "You have to get up."
    "You have to take your meds."
    "You have to eat.

    whatever it takes to keep the wheels on the cart until we figure out how to get back to where we want to be. Even when I don't really see the point. Especially when I don't really see the point.

  3. Thought this announcement about a clinical trial for an oral medication might be of interest to readers:

    This is great news from sanofi-aventis about their investigational oral medicine for MS, teriflunomide. There is currently a worldwide clinical research study that is evaluating teriflunomide for relapsing forms of MS. Click here for more information: www.tower3.msstudies.com.


  4. You are definitely not alone.. I almost forget about MS until I have an attack.