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Emotions and MS

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People with MS often have very labile emotions. This means they may switch rapidly from a neutral feeling to a sad, giggly, irritable or angry mood.  This can make living with them quite unpredictble.  It can make our own lives even more unpredictable than they are already.  Again, some of this is underlying depression or pain or anxiety.

An interesting aspect to the discussion of emotions in MS is the well known "psuedo-bulbar" effect, which has been described in the disease for more than a century.  People with MS may react to small things with extremes of crying or laughter (which are often inappropriate).  In the face of a serious problem an MSer may suddenly begin to laugh or giggle uncontrollably and appear quite inappropriate.  Or the opposite may happen.  A small inconsequential thing may happen, and the person may cry with outright sobbing.  Early on this forum we had a member, Frann, who was taken to the hospital for a sudden inability to walk.  During the exam which showed she had poor control over her legs, she began laughing hysterically.  Once the doctor determined she wasn't high, he took her husband aside and said he wanted to check her for MS.  

People with MS find this swing of uncontrolled emotions both embarrassing and frightening.  It is hard to understand what is happening and they feel out of control, wondering if they might be going crazy.  An uneducated doctor may agree with them, compounding the situation.  The astute doc will see this as a sign that needs neurological investigation.

So we see that emotions can go haywire in this disease and much of it is NOT behavioral or situational.  The disease, itself, plays with the generation of emotions in the brain.



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Apr 11, 2009
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