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Stigma affecting multiple sclerosis patients causes depression

03-30 | Rachael

Stigma affecting multiple sclerosis patients causes depression

Multiple sclerosis, a chronic disorder that affects the central nervous system (CNS), causes numerous life-disruptive symptoms, such as trouble with walking, fatigue, weakness, vision loss, motor impairment, cognitive difficulties and speech problems. It is estimated that multiple sclerosis affects nearly 2.3 million people worldwide.

Several studies highlight the rate of depression among multiple sclerosis patients with a lifetime prevalence of approximately 50 percent. Some of the common psychiatric symptoms witnessed in them are euphoria, mania, hallucinations, depression, and the constant feeling of laughing and weeping. At the end, this chronic illness makes people feel separated, isolated and judged. They start feeling stigmatized due to the depressive symptoms and severe repercussions of multiple sclerosis. Moreover, patients grappling with the challenges of multiple sclerosis start witnessing the problem of suicide ideation.

A study, conducted by the Penn State University, concluded that depression in people with multiple sclerosis can be overcome by removing the stigma attached to the disorder through a socially supportive environment. The researchers further concluded that the patients having a support system of loved ones and a sense of autonomy were less likely to get affected by depression.

Key coping strategies to overcome depression in multiple sclerosis patients

Besides the above-mentioned problems, people with multiple sclerosis witness loss of interest in the activities once enjoyed, persistent feeling of sadness, feeling of guilt and worthlessness, irritability, anger, anxiety, tiredness, difficulty in concentration and making decision, increase or decrease in weight, sleep problems, etc. Depression is a serious issue that elevates the disabling impact of multiple sclerosis. In fact, it disables the person cognitively, emotionally and physically. Other consequences include vision and speech problems.

The strong social bonds create a psychological buffer that helps to reduce stigma-related depression in people with multiple sclerosis. Some of the other efficacious coping strategies to keep depression at bay are as follows:

  • Social interaction – People with more social support experience less depression. Therefore, multiple sclerosis patients must interact with family and friends to share their inhibitions and fears. This will help them tremendously in clearing their doubts and overcoming exaggerated fears pertaining their disorder. Like other, they can go out for dinner, lunch or a cup of coffee, even if it is difficult. This will keep all spirited and positive. They can simultaneously pep up themselves by joining support groups to meet like-minded people who successfully overcame the challenges of a disorder as troublesome as multiple sclerosis. By enjoying the activities and sharing their experiences, they can start building a positive mindset.
  • Regular exercise – Besides overcoming psychological and emotional consequences, one can fight off depression through regular physical activities like aerobics, yoga, brisk walking. Just start frequenting gyms and exercising regularly to release more happiness hormones.
  • Experiential therapies – One of the alternative ways to overcome depression is through experiential therapies, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises. These therapies assist in early recovery by decreasing anxiety and stress.
  • Creative distractions – The effective way to control fluctuations in mood and emotions is the development of healthy and creative distractions, such as painting, writing, singing, etc. Such activities help people in alleviating negative emotions and feelings by focusing mind on matters other than the disorder.

Recovery road map

Many people with multiple sclerosis often live with the persistent fear of being targeted due to the social stigma attached to their illness. Such fears can exacerbate the problem by inciting depressive symptoms, as mentioned above. Moreover, it can intensify the impact of physical and mental health. Therefore, multiple sclerosis patients must learn to develop effective coping strategies to manage depression.

If you or your loved one is suffering from the symptoms of depression, contact the Depression Treatment Helpline of Colorado to access one of the best depression treatment centers in Colorado. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-427-5668 or chat online to know more about the depression treatment in Colorado.


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