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It’s common, even normal, to have feelings of sadness and grief when diagnosed with MS. It’s also common to go through regular ‘ups and downs’ as you deal with the daily challenges of life and life with MS. But note that, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, “Researchers are finding increasing evidence that depression is a symptom of MS as well as a reaction to it.”

So don’t be reluctant or ashamed to seek MS therapy to help deal with the blues or more severe depressive symptoms, including the following:

  • Sadness
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Loss of interest in everyday activities
  • Changes in appetite
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability

What is important to remember about these symptoms is their persistence. “They linger. They are not the normal, transient “blues” that everyone experiences in response to a sad or disastrous event,” explains the National MS Society.

Knowing you need MS therapy is an important first step.  Then, reach out to your neurologist or MS healthcare team for a referral. You may be sent to a therapist who specializes in multiple sclerosis or to a psychiatrist trained to understand and treat depression. The therapist will ask about symptoms such as sadness, tiredness, pessimism, sleep problems, and other symptoms listed above.

Drug MS therapy

Several types of drugs are available today for treating MS depression. Talk to your healthcare team. If you are prescribed specific drugs, your therapist will monitor your response.

Talk therapy

Most therapists don’t rely solely on medication to relieve depression symptoms; instead, they combine medication with therapeutic counseling, sometimes called talk therapy. This type of MS therapy can be offered through certified social workers, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, licensed professional counselors or other qualified non-physicians. Some people with MS find it easier to talk to a non-psychiatrist – it seems less threatening.

Talk therapy may be temporary to deal with a crisis situation, supportive to focus on coping mechanisms, or more deeply exploratory to help the person with MS develop greater self-awareness. This type of therapy may also be offered as part of an MS support group.

Don’t deny your feelings and don’t feel ashamed to ask for help. MS therapy can make a huge and positive difference in your life!