Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Emotional Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Most MS patients recognize the symptoms of MS within a few months of their diagnosis. The emotional effects are not visible externally, so may be overlooked by the families or carers of MS patients and even by the patients themselves. Despite the fact that it has the same physical cause, the effect of MS on the way somebody thinks is different to other symptoms. If the messages passing from the brain to the rest of the body via the central nervous system are distorted by MS it is hardly surprising the actual way the brain works is affected as well.

Therefore the tricks multiple sclerosis plays on the internal messaging systems of the central nervous system can take MS patients by surprise.

These mental effects can include:

Euphoria, which means an "exaggerated and unrealistic state of happiness", is a fairly common emotional symptom. It may not sound too bad, but it can be a problem if it means uncontrollable giggling when nothing funny has happened. Like being drunk, euphoria is quite fun at the time, but is frustrating for outsiders who can see perfectly well there is no joke and is potentially disastrous when talking to employers or people in authority.

Depression is at least as bad for people with MS as for people who are otherwise healthy, although it is impossible to tell how far the bad news about having MS is a cause in itself. Is it cause or is it an effect? Perhaps MS depression is both a cause and effect. In any case, depression amongst MS sufferers is well above the average for the population as a whole.

Irrational mood swings are a feature of MS that combines both euphoria and depression. The families of people with MS are often baffled by the sudden and unpredictable lurches from highs to lows.

Some researchers claim that more abstract concepts such as spacial awareness can become difficult for multiple sclerosis patients.

Clearer examples of thought problems are memory lapses, which can look like lazy thinking, carelessness, or just plain rudeness. MS patients are sometimes embarrassed to find they have forgotten the names of people they know very well.

Certainly MS patients can find it difficult to articulate ideas, especially in a group setting. Speech is at the complex crossover between the mental and the physical working of the brain, so it is inevitable that the MS patient has to learn to manage the way he or she talks, especially when feeling the effects of one of the emotional symptoms of euphoria, depression, or is undergoing irrational mood swings.

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