Depression with MS – a stigma?

“Hope is the feeling that the feeling you have isn’t permanent.” ~Joan Kerr

The initial shock of receiving the news that you have a chronic illness is often quite devastating — and because of that, depression is one of the more common emotional MS symptoms. And living with a slew of other complications can intensify the emotional ups and downs.  To make matters more complicated, when complication, exacerbations, relapses and illness management in general lead to percieved losses, feelings of sadness and depression are natural.

One has to recognise that it is ok to feel what you are feeling – the stages of grief are well known. With a diagnosis of MS can come:

  • loss (mobility, work, lifestyle, friends, sense of self, other…)
  • anger
  • denial
  • sadness
  • anxiety
  • guilt

Even after the diagnosis, living with MS can see resurgences of these emotions and various levels and in various forms throughout the course of the illness, so being aware of depression or depressed moods is really important.

Unfortunately there is often a stigma associated around depression in our society. Many people with MS or other chronic illnesses won’t talk to their doctors or family openly about what they are feeling or experiencing out of fear of being brushed by that stigma. Sometimes, spouses or family members outright deny that the person with MS has any kind of depression, making that person feel even more isolated and misunderstood.

It is important to talk about what you are feeling, stigma be damned. Find someone you trust to talk to (spouse, family member, friend, doctor, clergy, support group…there are many options). Google information about depression – learn about how to help yourself manage your emotions. And above all – be gentle with yourself.

“Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.” -Unknown

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