msf_staff: (Kasey)
This week (October 4-10) is Mental Illness Awareness Week in the U.S. Coincidentally, we are just putting to bed the latest issue of MSFocus (due in mailboxes later this month), the theme of which is on mental health for people with MS. Why is this an issue?

First of all, because having MS does not exclude you from having any other illness, including mental illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. They estimate that only 6 percent of those are "serious" mental illnesses, but if you are the one experiencing it, it's "serious." to you.

Moreover, some researchers believe there may be a connection between MS and bipolar disorder, as it appears that bipolar disorder is unusually common among those with MS. This connection isn't proven, but the increased prevalence has been noted.

Then, of course, there's the issue of depression. Depression is an illness that's intimately married with MS. Whether it's pre-existing before a diagnosis of MS, an MS symptom caused by the disease process itself, a side effect of MS medications, or an emotional and physiological response to the stress of dealing with a chronic illness, the fact is that the majority of people with MS will experience depression at some point. It needs to be taken seriously, and it needs to be treated.

This is an area where we cannot afford stigma. Depression can create or aggravate pain, fatigue, cognitive impairment, and a host of other MS-related symptoms. In that light, while it may not be advancing the disease process, you could certainly say that depression makes MS "worse."

Don't allow that to happen to you or someone you know with MS. Treat depression as what it is: a common part of MS that has to be faced. Address it head-on and get treatment. There's help available, if only you make the choice to seek it!
msf_staff: (Anne Marie)
This morning, Dr. Rob Godsall looked over our crowd and asked "How many of you forgot you had MS while you were on this cruise, looking out at the ocean, or sitting with friend at dinner?"

Hands shot up around the room. "Take life for what it is," he said. "Give MS its due, but give yourself your due, too."

Read more... )
msf_staff: (Kasey)
≈ Sometimes the direction MS research turns is surprising. We're used to hearing about immunomodulators, stem cells, genetics... but worms? Anne Marie and I are in disagreement about this article. It gives her a bit of the heebie-jeebies, but I'm feeling vindicated for letting my boys play in the dirt.

≈ As I was getting ready for work this morning, I heard the familiar voice of a friend, coming from my TV! I looked up to find Jonna Patton on the Today Show, talking about her "bionic leg" - the electric stimulator she uses for MS foot drop. I knew Jonna before she got the device, and I can tell you, it really did make a dramatic difference for her. But she was always a go-getter, bum leg or not.

It was a very good piece, I thought, and nice to see a national media outlet devote almost 8 minutes of air-time to an MS symptom. Good job, Today Show!

≈ The new issue of MSFocus is available online - for those of you outside the U.S., or anyone who just can't wait for it to hit their mailbox. The feature series is on genetics and MS, but there's also a really interesting article on drugs in the pipeline for progressive MS. That's something people have been asking about for a while.

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January 2013

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