Understanding and treating depression in multiple sclerosis

Understanding and treating depression in multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. By damaging the protective sheath (myelin) that insulates the nerve cells, it disrupts and impairs the communication between the brain and the rest of the body.

Considered as an autoimmune disease, its symptoms vary widely, ranging from vision loss, paralysis to sexual issues like erectile dysfunction (ED), pregnancy problems, etc. One of the major implications of MS is depression. In fact, some of the main medicines used for the treatment of MS are responsible for exacerbating the symptoms of depression, such as corticosteroids, benzodiazepines, etc.

However, in the United States, nearly 400,000 people struggle with MS, with around 10,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Therefore, an increased number of people run the risk of developing depression. Some of the key depressive symptoms witnessed in individuals suffering from MS include pathological weeping and laughing, euphoria, mania, hallucination, depression, etc. In fact, the rate of major depression in people suffering from MS is quite high compared to those who are healthy and afflicted with other chronic conditions.

Understanding the link of MS with depression

Besides the above-mentioned reasons, other factors may also play their part in kicking in depression in people with MS. These include psychological factors like realizing that the illness will bring major lifestyle changes, coping with a recent MS diagnosis, and getting a grasp of the changes brought forth due to the disease.

Time and again, a number of experts and medical practitioners have highlighted depression as the mainstream characteristics of MS by assessing and examining the disorder. According to the statistics available, the annual prevalence rates of depression in people diagnosed with MS is as high as 20 percent and lifetime prevalence rates is as big as 50 percent.

Depression in MS is also associated with greater neuropathology in the left anterior temporal/parietal region. Evidences further illustrated a grim picture by associating MS with suicide among patients who are socially isolated, severely depressed and struggling with alcohol problems.

Cognitive impairment witnessed during MS hints of depression

Because of in the damages to the nerve cells, cognitive functioning impairment is often recognized as a common characteristic of MS. As a result, the prevalence rate of impaired cognitive functioning in MS was determined to be around 40 percent or higher.

A study of nearly 200 people with MS identified about 46 percent with cognitive impairment, 34 percent with memory problems and 33 percent with executive problems.

Reportedly, the degree and severity of cognitive impairment is closely associated with the amount and location of white-matter disease within the cerebral hemispheres. Since cognitive impairment is now a well-established symptoms of depression, the above study played a key role in establishing the relation between depression and MS.

As such, there is no clear relationship between cognitive dysfunction and depression in MS. However, compared to the old studies, new studies have reported a positive link between both.  For example, in a 1986 review of the neuropsychology of MS, the author highlighted that euphoria, apathy, lack of interest and irritability are frequently observed in patients with widespread cerebral involvement, whereas depression, postulated to be of a reactive type, is more commonly seen in patients without cognitive dysfunction or with only mild involvement.

In 1995, the author further specified that cognitive dysfunction and depression are not correlated. However, a more recent review of 10 studies by Brassington and Marsh concluded that occurrence of depression in healthy people as mentioned above seem quite paradoxical in nature. They further states that the lack of any association between cognitive impairment and depression seems surprising due to a mounting evidence suggesting that neuropsychological deficits can lead to depression.

Recovery road map

If left untreated, depression can reduce the quality of life and at the same time aggravate the symptoms of MS, such as fatigue, pain and cognitive impairment. Moreover, severe depression can be life-threatening and may trigger suicidal tendencies. Therefore, it is necessary to keep a check on the warning signs of depression and consult an expert to access the right treatment.

If you notice the signs of depressive symptoms in you or your loved one, it is imperative to seek professional guidance immediately. Contact the Texas Depression Treatment Help to know about some of the finest depression treatment centers in Texas that offer a holistic treatment and ensure long-term recovery from all kinds of depressive thoughts. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-827-0282 or chat online with our experts to get information about the best depression treatment in Texas.