Multiple Sclerosis: 7 most troubling MS emotional symptoms
Exploring emotions with individuals living with multiple sclerosis
The emotional symptoms of multiple sclerosis are challenging to delineate – even for doctors, medical researchers, and scientists. This potentially disabling neurological disease, often tagged the MonSter, may take very different forms in various patients, and its timetable may seem random at best.
Let’s take a look at life with MS and the emotional effects this neurological disease can have in those who must live with it around the clock.
What are the most common emotional symptoms of MS?
MS may cause a large assortment of emotional symptoms, which may vary widely among individuals. In fact, the emotional symptoms of MS may even change for any given patient with each recurrence, exacerbation or incidence of the disease.
However, several MS emotional symptoms seem to be common complaints among those who know the MonSter all too well.
The emotional symptoms of MS may include depression, fear and anxiety, a feeling of isolation, major mood swings or even thoughts of suicide.
Countless individuals, living daily with MS, described discouragement and even periodic or prolonged depression. Donna B., Kerri B. and Rebecca N. spoke of the depression that can come with MS.
Dale E. associated cognitive symptoms with the tell-tale physical fatigue that so often affects MS patients. “The two are so closely related that it’s hard to tell which causes which,” he said.
2. Fear and Anxiety
The uncanny ability of MS attacks to crop up anytime without warning is often a huge source of anxiety for those who must live with the neurological condition. Bridget G., Heather L. and others echoed this concern.
“It’s easy to become paranoid about when the next MS symptoms will appear and whether they will stop me from working,” said Richard W.
“MS carries a fear of the unknown,” said Brian H. “I never know what is going to happen to me – not that I knew before MS, but the future is even more daunting.”
“I can still see it in my dreams,” recounted Katrien deP. “What would it feel like to be suddenly paralyzed?”
3. Frustration and Helplessness
One of the major lifestyle adjustments for many MS patients is the need to rely upon others for daily assistance. This can cause both frustration and a feeling of helplessness.
“Clearly, my husband should be nominated for sainthood,” said Heather L.
Bridget G. pointed out how she copes with MS concerns with her sense of humor. “My husband and kids keep me trucking right along – sort of,” she said.
4. Isolation and Loneliness
MS, with its potentially debilitating symptoms, can cause individuals to feel isolated from society. Part of this problem may be the unpredictability and apparent inexplicability of the neurological condition.
“One of the most frustrating factors of MS is the inability to describe this to your friends and family members,” said Meghan V.
“It’s hard to explain how you feel, and it’s almost like they don’t believe me,” said Tracey S. “I can’t blame them, though, because I will tell them that I slept 15 hours the night before. Yet I am still exhausted.”
Linda R. agreed. “Folks find it hard to understand why I may be able to accomplish a lot one day, and barely walk across the room the very next day.”
“Social isolation may be the most troubling MS symptom of all,” said Jeanne C. “This is the most crippling aspect of MS that I deal with, as I want to continue to be who I was prior to MS.”
5. Mood Swings
The unpredictability, discomforts, concerns and other issues associated with MS often leads to mood swings for those dealing with it. Kaye G., Heather L., Judy S. and others confirmed this concern.
“It’s a roller coaster of emotions,” Dori S. explained. “Dealing with them is difficult. So is feeling OK one minute and crashing on the couch the next.”
6. Self Image Issues
Many of the symptoms of MS can be downright embarrassing. Physical symptoms (particularly loss of balance, bladder issues and bowel problems) and cognitive symptoms (such as speech and memory troubles) may abash those affected.
“I joke about it with people I know,” said Judy S., “when I am actually embarrassed on the inside and feel like running from the room.”
“People just think I’m stupid,” complained BethAnn P., “but I know I wasn’t like this before.”
“Pride can be a problem,” admitted Caroline S. “I don’t want to use a walker in public.”
Life stresses can increase an affected individual’s odds of experiencing another MS episode, as Goran K. pointed out. Troubling stress and even positive excitement overload can exacerbate MS.
Also, because MS flare-ups (also known as relapses or exacerbations) are usually unpredictable, patients can become anxious about potential instances. Anticipation of potential flare-ups is a prevalent source of stress for MSers.
“It’s a nasty sort of Catch-22,” recounted Amy T. “MS can cause stress, and stress can aggravate MS.”
Therapy in Shared Concerns
Many individuals living with MS indicated that they found a certain element of relief in simply sharing their concerns and complaints with others.
Patti G. put it this way: “I know I'm not imagining things – and I’m not crazy,” she said. “I know I'm not the only one on the planet living through this.”
Many MS patients learn to adapt to life with the MonSter, growing adept at self-injections (of MS medications) and gaining personal confidence through the personal battle they face each day.
Additional MS Symptoms
In addition to emotional symptoms, MS can also cause physical symptoms (including balance issues, bladder and bowel problems, burning sensations, chest pain, coordination loss, fatigue, foot drop, headaches, heat sensitivity, muscle weakness, nerve pain, numbness, sexual dysfunction, sleep problems, spasticity, tremors, vertigo, vision problems, walking difficulties and more ) and cognitive symptoms (such as memory issues, concentration challenges, thinking problems, speech difficulties and more).
Multiple Sclerosis:7 most troubling MS emotional symptoms
Created by this user,
including adapted public domain artwork