MS and Mood Changes: What You Can Do to Cope

By Carol Caffin
Reviewed by Jeff Wilken, Ph.D.
August 16, 2022

If you live with multiple sclerosis (MS), you know that—along with a range of physical symptoms—the disease can take a mental and emotional toll, as well. Even if you’re not otherwise prone to depression, anxiety, or fluctuating moods, an MS diagnosis can change that.

“For many people, a diagnosis of a lifelong condition like MS is life-altering and can represent a degree of emotional trauma in response,” explains Leigh Charvet, Ph.D., clinical neurologist, professor of neurology, and director of MS research at NYU Langone Health in New York City. “Because MS is largely unpredictable in its course, a person with a new diagnosis has to adjust to living with the unknown of how the disease may affect them in the future.”

Not only that, but the autoimmune disease itself causes changes in the brain that can affect mood. According to Maureen Empfield, M.D., a psychiatrist based in Mount Kisco, New York, whose patients include people living with MS and other chronic degenerative conditions, “There is often an interplay of biological—that is, disease-related brain changes—and psychosocial factors.”