This goes along with the post I just did on emotions. This is the second part of the article, and deals with cognitive issues that change personalities in MS.
MS and Cognition
The other set of personality changes that we see with MS [is] caused by the impact of the disease on the brain. Until recently MS was not thought to cause cognitive problems. But it is now estimated that as many as 60% of people with MS have at least mild Cognitive problems.
Another common Cognitive difficulty is mild to moderate impairment of short-term and working memory. People who usually have good memories may find themselves forgetting appointments or other things they meant to do. Their attention span and ability to concentrate may be diminished.
Sometimes they find it hard to keep track of what they had been doing before they were interrupted.
For example, they may have difficulty getting back on track if the phone rings while they were sorting mail. While these problems can be quite subtle, they can be extremely frustrating and upsetting.
Some people with MS experience more serious Cognitive problems. They have difficulties with planning and problem solving and tend to become overwhelmed and inflexible when a task is too complex.
They may lack the flexibility to generate alternative solutions. They may be unaware of their difficulties and have problems monitoring their own behavior and with comprehending the impact of their behavior on others.
Difficulties with the self-regulation of behavior can create problems in many different ways. Some people with MS may be unable to plan and organize purposeful activity.
Sometimes the problem is in the area of initiating behaviors. This trouble with "getting started" may appear to others as depression or lack of motivation.
Other people who have MS may have the opposite problem of being unable to stop themselves. They may be very talkative and uninhibited, blurting out comments they would have kept to themselves in the past.
Because they are unresponsive to the normal social clues that let them know their behavior is inappropriate, they seem very impulsive and oblivious to the reactions of others.
Further, they may have a "short fuse" and experience unpredictable, angry outbursts.
It is important to remember that there often is an overlap between cognitive and emotional problems associated with MS and that many people experience some of each.
A person may have some memory difficulties and develop Depression in reaction to these. On the other hand, one of the symptoms of Depression can be forgetfulness.
An evaluation by a physician or knowledgeable health care professional can help differentiate these problems. Many of these symptoms can be treated once they are identified.
Cognitive problems often improve with Cognitive rehabilitation provided by a Speech and Language Pathologist. Emotional problems often respond to medications or to psychotherapy.
Support groups, recreational programs and social activities can help many people with MS cope with the challenges of the disease.
"Other people who have MS may have the opposite problem of being unable to stop themselves. They may be very talkative and uninhibited, blurting out comments they would have kept to themselves in the past. "
Maybe that's why MS is so helpful a disease for me to have in this journey of being myself. I really used to be able to be anything or anyone the situation called for. I was the best actress in the world, but not anymore. I can't be anything but who I am and that changes from a moron to a rather snide person on a daily basis. And I'm totally honest with everyone about everything. I can't come up with any other way to say things than how I chose to say it and people think I'm all holier than thou cuz of it, like I can't bring myself down to their level.
Being undiagnosed, perhaps I am like Lu described (I think it was Lu), hyperobservant of myself, seeing every new sensation, or sensation I haven't felt in a while, as a symptom. I hope not. Trouble is, I saw quite a bit of myself in that one. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Perhaps it merits a new health page, if the author would allow?
Those of us pushing on in age in our 50's and beyond have the task of figuring out why our memory is shorter, our attention span briefer and our multi-tasking ability kaput. Is it normal aging? for us women, what about menopause? How about that monster MS eroding the brain? The possibilities are pretty lengthy.
I would guess its all of the above ....I'm not going to drive myself looney trying to figure it out, I am already using too much energy trying to keep up!
I'm a writer and editor - and I've been a lifelong flake. So when I first started having trouble recalling words, it wasn't that alarming. It's become so frequent, though, that I'm really starting to become frightened. It's several times a day, now.
The other night I was scooping ice cream out of the carton and saying something to my son. I was looking for the word "carton," but the best I could do was, "bowl, box, the cardboard thing." That same night, the family was watching a television shows on the laptop. I picked up the television remote and tried to turn up the volume. That, as an isolated incident, would be typical flaky behavior for me. But I did it again later in the evening.
I've had great difficulty finding a job since I moved to the area, and I've had to take work as a self-contracted field editor. The work is not only repetitive, but extremely tedious and boring. I have the freedom to work as many or as few hours as I want. I know I'm lucky in that way, but I don't feel lucky. I can't motivate myself to get the work done. Discipline was never my strongest skill, but I developed quite a bit of it out of necessity. But now, I just can't make myself do this. I tell myself that I could if we were starving, if we really had to have the money. Well, we don't have to have it - but it would help. We have nothing to save without it. I feel like a horrible, lazy, undisciplined person, but I just can't make myself buckle down for more than a few hours a week. I HOPE that's a symptom of something other than a natural inclination toward being a bum.
I'm undiagnosed, though, so I can't say for certain that any of this applies to MS.
Cool article. Sorry I missed the first part as I have not been on much with my optic neuritis but this part totally applies to me!
I only have 17% visual recognition meaning if I see 100 images I can only pick out 17 of them after just 5 minutes. I have a short fuse (which I am working on in therapy and with family). I also say things that are shocking because I blurt things out before my brain can process and stop me. The doctors say that I am missing a filter in my brain that healthy people have that lets them know what is and isn't appropriate.
Oh well. I have come to terms the best that I can. I am not the me that I once was, I am trying to be the best me that I can.
If you are interested, go on line and type in brain lobe functions and you will find pictures of the brain with a description of which lobe does what. Most of my lesions are in the occipital and parietal lobes and all of my issues above are controlled in those areas. It doesn't change anything but is kind of cool to say yep that's why.
Boy, did that article and the comments hit home. Like Rendean, I saw myself in a lot of those descriptions.
I am not the assertive, handler of complex situations anymore. My sister and I are planning on finishing a full basement in the next few months. this is going to involve the hiring of a General contractor, a plumber, electrician, HVAC (HVAC - are you free?), tile person, drywaller, lighting person and an elevater installer. As the info and interviews began building up I decompensated and began losing sleep with anxiety. We had to just agree that my sister would be "point man" on the whole project, even though I own the house.
It makes me feel small and ineffective.
I cry when frustrated. I used to cry only when terribly angry, but now it takes just a little hitch in the plans.
I am closest to the person I was here on the forum. The slowness of the typing and the communication helps, I think. I feel that here I can still organoze (but can't spell) complex topics and make them understandable. At least you tell me I can - you are all so good to (for) me. But, in real time, I'm ineffective and emotional.
Example: I am having a great deal of difficulty heaving my right leg over the side of the tub to take a shower. We are remodeling one of our bathrooms so I can have a walk-in shower - IBecause of the flurry of shopping and buying the supplies, have been unable to sit and get started thinking about the forum. Maybe fatigue, but I haven't been able to "get going" in answering the posts. It has been eating at me. Today has been my best day yet. And it is only after 3 full days of rest and sleep. I finally have my thoughts where I can access them.
My brain feels as smart as it used to, but I am completely unable to express myself verbally/orally. It's just like Trace was saying about not finding the word "carton." I talk around all sorts of common words. My family is always playing oral charades trying to understand what I say. Even when typing I will sit here going over word after word to find the one I want. I used to have an award-winning vocabulary - 99%ile on all verbal testing.
I guess the words are still there, but they have somehow wandered off.
Trace - the inability to "get going" is typical of MS. Failure to initiate action. You feel it is now a lack of discipline, but it is far more organic than that. Don't be too hard on yourself.
This is a good time to re-read the Health Page written by our Shoshin called "Neuroplasticity and MS."
There are things we can do to help our brains rewire around the damaged areas. I've been playing a little with Brain Games.
This article (thanks Doni!) points out how many of the things that go haywire look to the outside observer like depression, but they aren't. This is one good argument for getting neuropsych testing. This way we can have better insight into what isn't functioning.
Hopefully we can then direct some cognitive rehab toward improvement.
Well, I have now lost my train of thought (really!) need some mental quiet time.
Doni, thank you SO much for posting this! This could not have been brought to my attention at a better time. Although I love my husband and would never give up on my marriage/family, there has been a lot going on, emotionally and mentally, that I just didn't understand... until I read this. It's amazing how one little spark can start a fire. After reading this, I wonder if that little spark is my emotions and I didn't even realize it. In the past, my husband has told me that he thought I had become lazy and apathetic, then he realized I was depressed about my illness. I didn't feel depressed. I didn't feel lazy or apathetic, either. Honestly, I can't explain how I felt, other than hollow, a blank slate, and I didn't know where to begin with anything. This really put things into perspective. Now, I know that I'm really none of those things, not lazy, not apathetic, and not depressed. I'm me! Just a little sick in the head. lol!
That spark started a fire because I got upset about him teasing me for saying "corner teeth", instead of "canine teeth". Well, it was one of those moments that those were just the first words to come to my mind, not the proper words. And I can't even tell you how the online dictionary has become my best friend, both for definitions AND spelling! I used to be a STELLAR speller, state-wide, first-place-winning speller! Shamefully, I even had to look up what apathy meant, as I no longer had any idea the meaning of the word! It's hard to have a "discussion/argument" when you don't even know what the person is saying about you! lol! "What do you mean you're tired of my laziness and apathy?! No really, WHAT DO YOU MEAN?" HAHAHA!!!
This has all just really gone downhill during this current relapse. Quix, thank you for advising the neuropsych eval. I think I'll call my neurologist and ask her about it. This also brings a lot more to light of why they ask certain things when you go in for a checkup. So many things, just like this, I had no idea had anything to do with MS, so I always just answered "no", thinking that it was just normal. Can anyone tell me what "normal" is? I forget, imagine that! hahaha!
Muchos gracias to everyone for making this slow-in-the-head momma feel much better! :)
I highly recommend the neuro-psych evaluation. I've had mine, and was not pleased with the results. The psychologist recommended I redo the test in a few years to see if there's any improvement, or decline.
I get distracted REALLY easily. I also get frustrated REALLY easily - to the point where I want to cry and scream over the simplest stuff, like not being able to get a bag open, or trying to work with the hot glue gun. I get so mad that I have to bang on something - last time I banged on the desk with a pair of scissors, which seemed to help.
I have weird periods of energy and lassitude, that seem to have nothing to do with how I feel. I might be dizzy and exhausted, but still be motivated to make a leather mask. Sometimes I'm just not motivated to do anything at all. I don't think I'm sitting around feeling sorry for myself, or being depressed - I just don't feel like doing anything except sleep.
I think the most embarrassing is the excessive laughter - I'll get on a laughing jag, and find it difficult to stop.
I too had the neuropsych and like jens I didn't like the results, but it did explain a lot of things.
jens the loss of control over your emotions is hard to deal with. I got out of the car on a woman at the bottom of my drive because she shot me a hateful look. Thank goodness she thought I was crazy enough she drove on.
I got really mad at my honey over something...can't remember what...but I told him I was having a hard time regulating my emotions and I was getting really mad. He heard but he didn't listen...his mistake. I think I could have ripped his head off and watched him bleed. All of this is so not like me. I also found things funny..like really funny, sad but really sad. I told the neuro. He did nothing. I told the GP. he said the counsler would take care of it. I told the counselor and he had the GP write a script for neurotin. It has helped tremendously. It also helps with the physical pain. A two for oner. What a bargin...I only had to lose my marbles to get it...lol
The gave you Neurontin for the emotion thing? Did they explain how or why this works for this symptom? I take Lyrica now and have taken Neurontin in the past for pain. Interesting! Glad to know it gave you some relief!
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