Depression and MS

A basic definition:

Basically, depression is a persistent low mood lasting more than two weeks. This is a pretty common symptom in people with MS. And although it's very common, that's where the simplicity ends when it comes to multiple sclerosis. This symptom can come about for several reasons.

A depressing diagnosis

There are several causes for depression in multiple sclerosis. One reason is probably the result of living with a chronic disease like MS.

The onset of the disease is usually around the age of 20. It typically strikes young adults at a time when they are most active. It's very conceivable that it would be an issue after hearing a diagnosis for a condition that still doesn't have a cure.

When faced with the possibility of severe or permanent disability, I would no doubt become depressed also. The uncertainties of living day to day not knowing what to expect is frustrating, to say the least.

When Cir first started wondering if he might have MS, he was still working. He was also taking martial arts classes and occasionally taught the class he was in. He probably knew more about multiple sclerosis than I did at that point. He had talked about it in the past, but I really hadn't had a reason to find out about it.

Depression Image Courtesy of Fakelvis

What's Normal?

He looked fine. Other than a few nagging symptoms which he would remind me about from time to time, he looked like himself. He worked hard. Everything was "normal".

When the effects of MS began to show more and Cir was diagnosed, that's when I thought I should probably look into what it was all about. I wanted to know exactly what would happen to him and what we were in for as a couple.

When Cir first dealt with depression, I was literally afraid for him. I had heard stories of people who felt they couldn't live with the devastating effects of MS. Cir and I both had heard stories of assisted suicides involving people who suffered from multiple sclerosis.

Depression itself, does not necessarily cause a person to have thoughts of death. These types of thoughts are mainly due to a feeling of hopelessness. Severe depression can eventually lead to feelings of hopelessness. It is, however, a condition that is treatable. If you have thoughts of taking your life, please stop reading and make an appointment with your doctor immediately.

Grief or depression?

First of all, grief, which may be mistaken for depression is something everyone feels at some time in their lives. We all have grieved the loss of a loved one. MSers may deal with losses as a result of multiple sclerosis.

Depression Courtesy of DailyInvention

Have you lost the ability to work? Can you no longer participate in the activities or sports you once loved? The fact that you can no longer walk or take care of your daily needs can cause you to feel grief.

All of this is normal. You can work through the grieving process to deal with these losses. It may take a while, possibly even years. But it can be done.

Sometimes it's a two steps forward, one step backward, process. You may even have to deal with two or more losses at the same time. Cir still occasionally expresses regret for not being able to walk or run the way he used to. But I think he has come to terms with them.

Sad Image Courtesy of Pennajoe123

Caregivers can grieve, too

I also went through a type of grief process when Cir stopped working. Of course for me it was a lot different. I wasn't the one leaving the job and I didn't have the illness.

I guess it was more a loss of security. Or possibly normality. We had to figure out how we were going to continue to raise 3 children with no income. Two were almost ready to leave home, but we had another daughter who was only about 8 years old when Cir stopped working.

Losing your dreams

I was afraid for us. Losing a spouse is one thing. You grieve and eventually you go on. You do what you have to do to keep on living. Losing the life you thought you would have is quite another. It's not so cut and dry.

We were now faced with the possibility of not ever realizing the dreams we had made with each other. How could we possibly build our dream home or even own a home with no regular income? How could we send our kids to college? Would we be able to travel? Would we still grow old together?

I finally came to the conclusion that we would just have to re-write our dreams. In a way, this website is a way to do that. Multiple sclerosis may at times place physical limits in your path. You just have to figure out a way to get around them. You can reach your dreams. You just have to take another path.

To read more about the symptoms and causes of depression click here

Go from Multiple Sclerosis and Depression to MS Symptoms.

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