Multiple Sclerosis: Mental and Emotional Problems

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MS can cause cognitive problems. These may include trouble with:

  • Memory, especially short-term memory.
  • Problem solving.
  • Keeping attention on a mental task.
  • Finding the right words to express yourself.
  • Grasping ideas quickly.

These problems can occur early in the course of the disease. And they may get worse with time. These problems can also be a side effect of medicines you're taking for other MS symptoms. Or they could be made worse by other symptoms of MS, like depression, fatigue, pain, and sleep problems.

MS can also cause mental health problems. Someone who has MS may:

  • Have depression.
  • Have thoughts of suicide.
  • Have anxiety.
  • Feel sad, worried, or angry.
  • Feel lonely or be isolated.
  • Laugh or cry suddenly for no reason, even if something isn't funny or sad.

Medicines and counseling can help treat problems caused by MS. Joining a support group for people with MS can also be an option. Talk to your doctor if you need help.

People with MS are more likely to die by suicide. Emergency help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental-health crisis, a substance-use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:

  • Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.

Consider saving these numbers in your phone.

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Current as of: December 20, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.