Depression. It’s a word you’ve heard a million times before and it means different things to different people. To some, it may mean feeling down for a few hours here and there. And to others, it describes a state of sadness that lasts several months. It’s quite common to experience depression during the course of MS. In fact, studies have suggested that severe clinical depression is found frequently among people with MS—even when compared to those with other chronic, disabling conditions.

So how do you know if you’re experiencing major depression? Look for these key symptoms:

  • You feel deeply sad and irritable.
  • You’re no longer interested in the things that usually make you happy.
  • You don’t feel like eating. Or on the contrary, you’re eating way too much.
  • Your sleep patterns are out of whack.
  • You have problems with concentration or thinking.
  • You’ve had thoughts of death or suicide.
  • You feel fatigued.
  • You feel agitated.
  • You have thoughts of worthlessness or guilt.

If any of those symptoms feel familiar, reach out to your primary doctor immediately. Let your close friends or family in on it as well. A strong support system is key.

The most important thing to remember is that depression is common. You can’t control or prevent it by willpower or determination. And it certainly doesn’t reflect poorly on you as a person. Depression can occur at any time, even when life is running smoothly.