Depression, Anxiety May Be Early Signs of MS

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Multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease, targets myelin sheath. This protective layer covers nerve fibers. Its damage can result in several symptoms; these include vision problems, fatigue, weakness, and numbness.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disorder of the brain and spinal cord that significantly influences mental health. Most folks with MS, around 70%, struggle­ with depression at some point. Anxiety is also a common occurrence.

Recent studies put forward a new idea: depression and anxiety might hint at MS even before well-known symptoms pop up. According to a Neurology journal study, people on the verge of MS were nearly twice as likely to face mental health issues in the five years predating the diagnosis.

The researchers looked over health documents of more than 6,800 folk with MS in British Columbia, Canada. They compared rates of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia before being diagnosed with MS, contrasting to a group of people who didn’t have MS.

The findings showed that people with MS were about 1.8 times more likely to encounter depression and 1.7 times more likely to experience anxiety in the half-decade before their MS was confirmed. There was no increased risk of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

The researchers believed that the increased risk of depression and anxiety in people with MS might be due to a combination of factors. These include inflammation, damage to the brain, and the stress of living with a chronic illness.

You should know that feeling depressed or anxious is usual for many, so just having these emotions doesn’t directly point to you having MS. But, if you’re feeling down or nervous and also experiencing other MS symptoms like tiredness, issues with sight, or lack of feeling, it’s key to visit a doctor. This can help dismiss MS or other potential reasons.

What does this signify for those with MS?

This study indicates that depression and anxiety could be early MS signs, showing up before more familiar symptoms. This could be invaluable data for MS patients and their kin. It could let them address their mental health issues sooner.

What does this mean for future research?

The findings of this study highlight the importance of considering mental health symptoms in the early diagnosis and management of MS. More research is needed to understand the relationship between depression, anxiety, and MS, and to develop better ways to identify and treat these conditions in people with MS.


University of British Columbia. (2023, September 25). Depression, anxiety may be among early signs of MS. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2023 from

Psychiatric Comorbidity During the Prodromal Period in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis. Anibal S Chertcoff, Fardowsa Yusuf, Feng Zhu, Charity Evans, John D. Fisk, Yinshan Zhao, Ruth Ann Marrie, Helen Tremlett. Neurology Sep 2023, 10.1212/WNL.0000000000207843; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000207843