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The following article is from the magazine “HealthLine”.
“Understanding and Managing Multiple Sclerosis Mood Swings”
Mood swings might explain why you’re happy one minute and angry the next. A television commercial might bring you to tears or maybe you’re suddenly snapping at other people for no reason. These are examples of mood swings which are common in some people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Mood swings are a common symptom of MS. The connection between the disease and emotions often goes unrecognized. It’s easy to see many of the physical effects of MS such as problems with balance, walking, or tremors. In comparison, the emotional impact of the disease is less visible from the outside.
MS can raise your risk of emotional instability which may lead to uncontrollable laughing, crying, or even euphoria. However, therapy, medication and frank communication may help you manage your mood swings.
Common causes of MS-related mood swings –
MS mood swings can strike without warning and leave you feeling frustrated and overcome by your seeming lack of emotional control. It’s important to try to understand what you’re feeling and the reasons for your mood swings. Being as honest and observant as possible can help you determine the cause of your emotions.
Some common causes of MS-related mood swings include stress, anxiety, depression, pent up frustration, inability to cope and grief.
Mood swings from grief typically resolve with time. They often last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. It’s especially common to experience grief-related mood swings when you’ve been recently diagnosed with MS. It can be very difficult to learn that you have the condition.
Besides grief and other emotional responses to external factors, the disease itself may play a role in your mood swings. Two parts of your brain are involved in emotion. One part forms emotional responses while the other allows you to control them. MS lesions can form in the part of your brain that allows you to control emotions.
This might lead to difficulties with self-control. It can also cause unbalanced expressions of sadness or happiness. Your emotional responses can even be scrambled causing you to laugh at sad news or cry at something funny. Many patients report a worsening of their emotional symptoms during an MS attack.
You can have mood swings no matter how severe your MS is. It may seem like they come out of nowhere and end just as quickly as they began. If your mood swings are linked to nerve damage they may become more frequent as your condition progresses.
The first step in taming your MS-related mood swings is speaking with your doctor. Your family doctor, neurologist or mental health specialist can give you tools to help you escape the emotional roller coaster. They may recommend:
– counseling sessions with a trained mental health expert
– mood stabilizing drugs
– anti-anxiety medications
Depending on the other medications you take to control your MS symptoms and the progression of your condition, you may be unable to use antidepressants and mood stabilizing drugs. In this case cognitive behavioral therapy may be an option.
In addition to therapy and medications you can take several pro active steps to help control your moods. Getting support from others is the key. For example:
Delegate – If you’re overwhelmed by your daily routine, reduce your stress levels by delegating some tasks to other people. Free yourself from burdens to give yourself more time to relax and focus.
Turn to a friend – Confide in a trusted family member or friend about your frustrations, fears, and other feelings. Talking to others can help release your pent-up emotions and stop them from boiling over in the form of a mood swing.
Scooterjon says – I’ve noticed in the past 10-15 years that I’m a more emotional person. I’ll watch something sad on TV and tears will well up in my eyes and I get choked up. Reading obituaries can also do this to me.
Once or twice per week I will snap at Doris. She’ll say or do something I don’t agree with and I’ll yell at her. You guys don’t know Doris but she is a sweetheart. She never gets mad and never raises her voice. Then here comes this disabled guy (me) yelling at her! I often say that Doris should have dumped me a long time ago. As soon as I start snapping I usually I catch myself. Then I’ll apologize and say “Doris, get me another Bupropien.” We have a laugh and move on but I never used to be short tempered like that. Something must be happening to my brain!