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Julie  Stachowiak, Ph.D.

Two Questions Can Help You Figure Out if You Might Be Depressed

By August 31, 2012

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Depression is a common symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS). Problem is, the relationship between depression and other MS symptoms, such as fatigue and cognitive dysfunction, is complicated. Often, these symptoms are very difficult to untangle from each other and it is hard to know which one to start working on first.

For several years, experts have been urging doctors to ask two questions to determine if someone might be depressed:

1) Have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?

2) Have you often been bothered by little interest or pleasure in doing things?

Alternatively, one could ask them worded in this way:

1) Have you felt depressed or sad much of the time?

2) Have you lost interest in things you used to be interested in?

90% of people who are depressed will answer "yes" to either one of these questions. However, only 60% of the people who answer "yes" are actually depressed. In other words, while the two-question screening test captures the majority of depressed people, it also captures many people who have other things going on and further evaluation is needed.

Regardless, this is a good way to start figuring things out. Ask yourself these questions. If the answer to either one is "yes," go talk to your doctor. Depression is serious and it is very common among people with MS. It can be treated. It is not your fault.

Read more about MS and depression:

September 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm
(1) Karin says:

I must say that I am more frustrated with myself and things I can or cannot do than depressed. Having left most of my dear friends on the West Coast it can be very lonely at times and it is difficult at my age to make new friends here. I have met several very nice ladies, but they are all married so I would be the fifth wheel on their wagon, also I am not that willing to explain the multitude of “funny” symptoms, especially all the bathroom problems that come along with the MS.

September 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm
(2) Anne says:

I agree with you about being frustrated and not being able to do the things I used to do such as my six miles walk in the morning

September 5, 2012 at 11:42 pm
(3) Sylvia says:

Ladies: I think the frustration kicks in first and then when you lie in bed and remember how easy all those things used to be, the depression kicks in. It’s not a “woe’s me”, but rather a sadness that you usually don’t share with anyone that does not have MS. People tell you “we all get depressed”, and that is true, but people with MS that suffer from depression makes your joints hurt, your hands ache, your head throb.
Pills onlly do so much, but there is always something lingering in foreground that doesn’t let go.

September 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm
(4) Jeanne says:

Sure I get depressed at times. And why wouldn’t I; this MS isn’t anything that would make one happy. But I try to fill my days with things I can handle,in spite of the handicap. Some days I do better than others.

September 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm
(5) Pip Allon says:

I think the hardest thing is not being understood……. sometimes I feel lonely which is NOT the same as being alone…
Living with “strange” symptoms that you can’t explain…..and yes I do feel sad often……….. perhaps most of the time really…. but no one knows.

September 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm
(6) Multiple Sclerosis says:

I do agree that the depression is a common symptom of multiple sclerosis. People with MS that suffer from depression. But we can overcome it in different way which is joyful for us. I think we can get relief from frustration if we try to do something good for my neighbor; I can try to do something better in my profession which is delightful to me. As such we can reduce the frustration.

September 23, 2012 at 6:00 am
(7) Multiple Sclerosis says:

No need to go to doctor to get relief from depression. It is very common among the people with MS. People can get relief from depression to apply their technique which is absolutely depend on his own process. For example, I applied watching TV and got good result.

January 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm
(8) Tinglelings says:

I have dealt with situational depression off and on after the age of 25. After my MS diagnosis I started realizing that the face of my depression had really changed. What used to feel like the ups and downs of single parenting and a commanding career now felt like immense sadness. The best advice I have received came from an unlikely source – an attorney. I consulted with an attorney to explore a possible EEOC complaint against my employer regarding a reasonable accomodation request. She matter of factly told me “you have got to get comfortable saying “I have a disability” and articulate what you need – and ask for it”. She was so correct. I had not allowed myself to EVER say “I have a disability”. Now when I feel disappointment; sadness; resentment; and a plethera of other negative feelings, I say to myself “I have a disability”. This is my mental queue to reign in the ambition that my brain thinks my body is capable of. I have also really worked on my self talk. Instead of always thinking of what I am missing or have turned down, I try to make a practice of saying “This is a good day – lets get out and do something!” This has been very helpful with my husband also as when I make that statement he knows – we drop everything and go do something enjoyable. Housework and maintenance can wait.

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