Mental Health

Depression and mental health concerns are common in multiple sclerosis. About half of people diagnosed will have a depressive episode – three times higher than for the general population. Identifying depression and seeking early treatment is key to its successful management.

Depression and mental health

While we all feel sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time, and sometimes without any apparent reason. Depression is more than just a low mood – it’s a serious condition that affects your physical and mental health.

The two most common signs of depression are:

  • Persistently feeling sad or empty with a low mood.
  • Ongoing, reduced interest or pleasure in all or most normal activities, such as eating, reading or socialising.

Many of the symptoms associated with depression such as fatigue, sleep or concentration issues are also symptoms of multiple sclerosis, which can make recognising depression even more difficult.

Managing depression and improving mental health

It can be hard to discuss mental health, but family and friends can play a key role in helping you identify, recognise or even manage and prevent depression. Prevention strategies for depression and ways to manage your mental and physical health may include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Sunshine, warmth, light and fresh air
  • Positive thoughts, avoid being hard on or comparing yourself to others
  • Recognising risk factors can be important so keeping a diary can be valuable.

Getting help

Without the right help early on, depression can spiral out of control and may also affect your multiple sclerosis management. If you have mood or motivation issues, it may be helpful to review your multiple sclerosis management and medications with your GP and neurologist. If depressed tell someone how you feel, as soon as possible – such as a GP, MS nurse or ask to be referred to an appropriate specialist.

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