August 11, 2008

The “Blues”

Posted in multiple sclerosis tagged , , at 6:39 am by melissasummers

The blues.  In the music world, it is a genre that encompasses deep emotions, deep rhythm and deep sounds.  Despite the pessimistic channels, “the blues” has the power to lift the spirit, the heart and also the physical body.  I dare anyone to listen to the beat of the blues and to try to keep their feet from tapping!

In multiple sclerosis, “the blues” take on an entire different tune.  The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has  mentioned  that studies have suggested that clinical depression, the severest form of depression, is more frequent among people with MS than it is in the general population or in persons with other chronic, disabling conditions. 

During my own minor roller coaster fluctuations, I spent some time looking through the numerous studies to find out how to battle this facet of MS.  Just as there are many theories on the cause of MS, there are also many theories and variables that make depression a common “symptom” of MS.

First, there are medications used to combat the effects of multiple sclerosis.  Personally, I am on 4 main medications, 2 of which list depression as the most frequent side effect.

Next, there is the physical limitations.  A day fighting to keep moving and battling fatigue is exhausting.  Once again, personally speaking I find that when physically drained, I am also emotionally drained.  My temper becomes short and  cognitive skills diminish.  I call it my child without a nap syndrome.

Another quite reasonable possible is the disease itself.  Emotions are created in the brain, the brain is composed of nerves coated in myelin which is damaged from the disease.  A simple explanation on this process can be found on my 3-8-08 Multiple Sclerosis thread.  Once the emotion areas are damaged, it damages the way they are processed and the ability with how to express them becomes diminished or even overactive.

Finally, there are some that manifest depression as a result of the inability to cope with a disease that is so unpredictable.  With MS there is no knowing what each day will bring, or take away.  My thoughts on this portion are that even healthy people do not know their own future, lives can be changed in an instant.  Dwelling on such thoughts produces nothing but more negativity.

There are medications available to assist those with this symptom.  It is recommended that anyone with depression spanning longer than 2 weeks should seek medical assistance.

For myself, my ups and downs are part of routine life.  I believe in balance, everything evens out.  I try to live and look at things realistically.  If I am feeling down, I ask myself a few questions.  Am I safe from harm at the moment?  Have my nutritional bodily needs been met?  Do I have a home to protect me from the outside elements?   These questions cover the basic needs, once answered I am assured that I should be comfortable, safe and can relax from any fears created by my mind.  A friend of mine has a wonderful saying “Live in the now”.   Those questions enable me to do just that.

  Often I  “arm” myself with education. By learning about my disease I am able to not be caught by surprise.  I am able to eliminate any fears of the unknown, preventing my imagination from getting the best of me.  Emotional fluctuations are common in everyday life.  I also know that if I ever need assistance , my medical team, family and my knowledge of what the processes and symptoms are, are immediately available.

For the record dear family and friends, I have life’s basic needs, and I am safe from harm, comfortably “Living in the Now”, and enjoying listening to the blues!



  1. Lisa Emrich said,

    It sounds like you have never experienced clinical depression which is a great thing!! As someone who has been there, it is more difficult to read your analysis of the situation as being so simple. You are absolutely correct that life presents minor ups and downs, but that is not what clinical depression is about.

    I’m not really sure what it is that bugs me so much in reading your summary of research, but just be aware that the ‘blues’ and clinical depression are nothing alike. Stay living in the now, handle the minor ups and downs, and seek help when the riptide has pulled you under and won’t let you go.

  2. melissasummers said,

    Hi Lisa,
    Yes, you are correct as I have not experienced clinical depression. I try to write on things that I have experienced personally. Mind and mood flucuations have definately increased in the last few years, whether a result of medication or disease process, I may never know. It has been those unusual for me flucuations that spurred on looking into if they were a side effect of symptom. Working in the medical field, I habitually keep things simple in easy and basic to understand language. And these basics are some that I feel that those that are not familiar with MS should be introduced. Once again, anyone regardless of health issues, experiencing depression should contact their medical team, as extended depression is not part of everyday life. Thank you Lisa for your response, it is appreciated it is important.

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