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Moodiness, Irritability, and MS

By Matt Cavallo

It has been a scorcher out there. This summer, more than in recent memory, has been unbearably sweaty and hot. That sweaty hotness has affected more than just my fatigue and lethargy levels. It is also starting to affect my mood. Whether you have MS or not, the dog days of summer probably have us all feeling a little irritable right now. What you may not know is that your bad mood might not be caused by the heat. Your moodiness and irritability could actually be related to symptoms of MS. Lets look at these symptoms and provide some suggestions on where you can turn to for help.

The first symptom that can cause moodiness and irritability is depression. MS can cause changes in the brain that can greatly affect your emotions. Many people living with MS report depression as a common symptom. When you have depression, you may get sad or irritable, lose energy, and stop enjoying things that you used to love. If you think you might be depressed, it's important to talk to your health care professional as soon as you can, so you can start to get help.  Depression isn't something you can prevent, so there's you shouldn't feel embarrassed or ashamed of what you're going through.

Memory is the next MS symptom that can have an effect on your mood. Many people living with MS report problems with memory and cognition. There is nothing more frustrating than not remembering whether you closed the garage door or turned off the stove. It is even more annoying when you don’t remember what you may have forgot until you are already at work. This is just one example, but if you live with cognitive fog, then you know how irritating being forgetful is. The good news is that there are clinical professionals like speech language pathologists who can help with compensatory strategies for people with memory problems. Working with a qualified therapist may help with the moodiness and irritability that comes with MS memory issues.

Limited mobility can also affect your emotions. Maybe walking is becoming too difficult or trying to go up the stairs is impossible. These limitations can make you feel frustrated, and even angry that you can’t get around like you used to. The good news is that physical therapy can help you with your functional mobility to overcome some of these daily challenges. If your mobility improves, so may your overall mood and irritability. 

Loss of vision is another difficult MS symptom that can affect your mood and irritability. Vision changes in MS affect more than just your eyesight. You might find yourself bumping into things because you can’t judge distance, you may lose your ability to drive or you may become sensitive to lights. These changes can be extremely frustrating to deal with and can make you moody or more irritable. Talk to your neurologist about any changes in vision and how it is affecting not just your sight, but your overall mood. 

Fatigue is another symptom that can affect your emotional state. When you are fatigued and feeling drained, so is your mood. Having to do anything when you are fatigued can make you irritable. If your fatigue is affecting your mood and irritability, talk to your neurologist for treatment options. 

People often don’t know that these changes in your mood or irritability can be related to your MS symptoms. These changes can not only affect how you feel about yourself, but can also affect how you interact with friends, loved ones and coworkers. The real key is to talk about your symptoms and seek help. Without help, you may unknowingly push people away because of your moodiness and irritability.

If you find yourself increasingly moody or irritable, talk to your neurologist about it. Your neurologist wants to know about these emotional symptoms, in additional to your physical symptoms of MS. There are also mental health specialists that can help you work on your MS symptoms, which may have a positive effect on your mood and irritability.