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It’s normal to have periods from time to time where you may feel down or even depressed – particularly after difficult or stressful moments. If you’ve been diagnosed with MS, you may experience a range of emotions, such as feeling sad or a sense of loss.

However, if you’re feeling these symptoms consistently or it’s impacting your day-to-day life, it’s important to seek help from your GP (general practitioner) or a mental healthcare provider.

To talk to someone who understands MS and how you might be feeling, you can also contact us on 1800 042 138. You don’t need an appointment. Our team is available from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday and can provide you with support and advice.

What to do if you're experiencing depression

Depression can happen to anyone at any point, and can occur for no known reason or from a mix of issues or events that impact how you feel. Feeling depressed is not a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of. In fact, seeking help and support to take care of your mental health and wellbeing is a sign of strength and can drastically improve your quality of life.

If you or someone close to you with MS has been feeling depressed, talk to a healthcare provider as soon as possible. This could include a GP (general practitioner), MS nurse or a mental health specialist.

MS and depression

There’s still a lot to be learned about the relationship between MS and depression. However, there are some things we know:

  • Depression is common for people with or without MS.
  • Depression can be flared up as a result of life stresses or situations.
  • MS damages the protective nerve fibres in the brain, which can affect emotional expression and control, mood and depression.
  • Depression may be linked with changes in the body’s cells and immune system.
  • Depression can be a side effect of certain medications, such as steroids.

Ways to improve your mental health with MS

  • Get outside for some fresh air and sunshine.
  • Keep a diary to track and reflect on how you’re feeling. This can help you recognise risk factors for triggers and avoid episodes.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Stay in touch with friends, family and support networks.
  • Seek professional help and keep in regular contact with your medical team.
  • Practice mindfulness and try to manage daily stresses more calmly.
  • Avoid addictive substances, such as alcohol.
  • Find hobbies or volunteering opportunities to connect with other people.

This page has been reviewed and approved by Executive Manager Client Engagement and Wellbeing Jodi Haartsen. Jodi is a registered MS Nurse who has helped thousands of patients over her 20 years’ experience at Eastern Health MS service in Australia, in several roles including nurse educator, research nurse and nurse practitioner. Jodi is the 2022 winner of the global MS Brain Health Leader Award in the Independent Healthcare Professionals category.

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