Depression in Multiple Sclerosis

Depression is the most common mood disorder in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Standard antidepressant therapies are usually used to treat depression. For reasons not yet understood, some medicines for MS treatment (interferon beta, corticosteroids, benzodiazepines and baclofen) can trigger or worsen depression in susceptible patients.


Several studies have suggested that clinical depression develops more frequently among people with MS than in those with other illnesses, or throughout the general population. Depression is also common in other immune-mediated neuroinflammatory diseases, suggesting that inflammation may contribute to the condition. In fact, inflammation in a brain region called the hippocampus might explain why people with MS face depression far more often than people with other chronic brain diseases.

Other factors may also contribute to depression, such as coping with a recent MS diagnosis, realizing that it will bring major lifestyle changes, and understanding that the evolution of the disease itself could damage parts of the brain associated with emotion and behavior.

If left untreated, depression will likely reduce quality of life and worsen MS symptoms that include fatigue, pain, and cognitive changes. Severe depression can be life-threatening because it may cause thoughts of suicide and suicidal behavior.

In addition to using antidepressants, some lifestyle changes might help ease depression. Patients should exercise as they are able, try yoga and meditation, stay connected with a social network, and eat healthy foods.

Some antidepressants prescribed to patients with multiple sclerosis include:

Cymbalta (duloxetine hydrochloride)

Effexor XR (venlafaxine)

Paxil (paroxetine)

Prozac (fluoxetine)

Wellbutrin (bupropion)

Zoloft (sertraline)

Depression continues to be rigorously studied by MS researchers. Read the latest news about depression in Multiple Sclerosis News Today .

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.