Multiple Sclerosis Depression Treatment: Finding Professional Help
Because people with MS are much more likely to develop depression, professional assistance is necessary. If your car was smoking, would you wait to get an evaluation from a mechanic thinking that it would probably get better on its own, or would you take it into the shop immediately? Treating your car better than your mental health is a mistake.
Mental health professionals are numerous in their classifications and experience, but people with MS and depression will benefit from several. They include:
- Prescriber – States vary in their rules and regulations, but you will benefit from seeing someone who can prescribe medication, especially one that has experience in treating depression in people with chronic illnesses. Psychiatrists are medical doctors and can prescribe throughout the country. Your state may allow nurse practitioners or psychologists to prescribe certain types of medications. Medications can be very beneficial for people with MS and depression. Be sure to explain your MS symptoms and depression symptoms thoroughly. Your comfort with your provider is paramount – if you don't feel comfortable or don't have confidence in the professional you're seeing, seek a second opinion.
- Therapist – Whether it is a social worker, counselor or something in between, a therapist will be an important piece of your treatment. A therapist can provide information on depression and how your symptoms are a result of it. They will discuss useful interventions that can make profound differences in your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
- Case manager – Your need for this service will depend on your MS symptoms. Do you often forget about appointments? Do you have trouble remembering the information the doctor gave you? A case manager, many times, can accompany you to appointments to be sure that your treatment is moving forward as planned.
Self-Help Tips for Coping With MS and Depression
Addressing and improving depression requires a lifestyle change. You cannot spend only 45 minutes per week working on your depression and expect significant changes. You must continually and consistently learn, practice and perfect skills to manage your mood.
- Follow recommendations. Trust the professionals in your life, and follow their treatment recommendations. Find creative ways to be consistent with medications if your memory is poor. Be clear with your professionals about how closely you are following their recommendations. If you do not trust your doctor or feel that he or she is not looking out for your best interests, seek another opinion. Having a solid team is the only way to confront a serious problem like MS.
- Seek support. Support comes in many shapes and sizes. Family, friends, and coworkers are great options if you are lucky enough to have them available. What if you don’t have people in your life? You must actively seek them out. In person and online, people exist that can empathize with your situation and status. Of course, making new friends is not easy, but the reward is incredible. Once you have support in place, use them to talk through your feelings.
- Have fun. Spending too much time, energy and attention on your MS will leave you drained. Choose to find balance in your life by finding fun in all shapes and sizes. Create satisfying experiences by doing old favorite activities or discovering new ones. Have you tried yoga yet? What about skydiving? There is always something new waiting for you. And while you have fun, be sure to maintain your sense of humor.
- Give back. MS makes you focus too much on yourself and your problems. Volunteering your time and energies to others in need turns the table and puts you in a helper role. This position will give you a new purpose and meaning. Volunteering will be a welcome boost to your self-esteem and worth.
- Relax. Over time, little issues grow to become bigger and more stressful. If stress equals worse depression, decide to find new and better ways to relax. Keep in mind that a positive, active stress-reducing activity is always favorable over sitting to watch TV. Exercise is always a great choice. An hour at the spa, a walk on the beach or 20 minutes of a relaxation technique taught by your therapist may be enough to get through the week.
The Bottom Line...
If you have MS, be prepared to make room in your life for depression. Understanding the ways that MS triggers depression is important as you find new ways to fight it. Professional help is a must, but real success comes with changing your life and focus towards treating your symptoms. If you never give up, you can never lose.