Grief is a normal reaction to loss, whether it be the loss of a loved one, or the loss of an ability. As such, it is normal for someone with MS to experience grief after a diagnosis, or when they experience progressive symptoms such as diminished mobility, reduced flexibility or fatigue.2
It is important to note that grief is a temporary condition. If it becomes prolonged, then what you are feeling may have turned into depression.
Signs of depression
Some of the symptoms of depression, such as fatigue and difficulty concentrating can also be a symptom of MS, which can make it hard to spot. Some signs that you may be depressed include:3
- Feeling sad, ‘flat’ or down most of the time
- Losing interest or pleasure in activities
- Feeling tired or lacking motivation
- Changes in your weight or appetite
- Having problems sleeping or sleeping all the time
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Feeling restless, edgy or slow
- Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Thinking repeatedly about death or suicide.
There are effective treatments for depression which can include lifestyle modifications, psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy and medications such as antidepressants.4
Depression can be treated. Speak to your GP, neurologist or MS nurse if you think you may be depressed.
There are also online services and helplines with friendly counsellors on who can help.
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- Boeschoten RE, et al. J Neurol Sci. 2017;372:331-341.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. 5 myths about multiple sclerosis and depression. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/multiple-sclerosis-ms/5-myths-about-multiple-sclerosis-and-depression (date of last update not specified).
- Lifeline. Depression. Available at https://www.lifeline.org.au/media/0jsl1fs2/rev1_ll-4pp-fact-sheet_depression.pdf (date of last update not specified).
- Malhi GS et al. Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists clinical practice guidelines for mood disorders. Aust New Zealand J Psych 2015; 49: 1-18