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    Multiple Sclerosis: Mental and Emotional Problems - Topic Overview

    Cognitive impairment problems can be caused by multiple sclerosis (MS) and may include difficulty with:

    • Memory, especially short-term memory.
    • Problem solving.
    • Keeping attention on a mental task, such as a math calculation.
    • Finding the right words to express yourself.

    These problems are often quite mild early in the course of the disease. But they may get worse with time, depending on the location of tissue damage (MS lesions) in the brain. Neuropsychological tests may help identify specific problems. Side effects of medicines used to relieve physical MS symptoms may cause cognitive problems.

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    Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis

    If you have progressive relapsing multiple sclerosis (PRMS), you’ll have distinct attacks of symptoms, called relapses. You may or may not fully recover after these flares. Between relapses, the disease continues to get worse slowly. PRMS is the least common type of multiple sclerosis. It affects about 5% of people with the condition. You may not be able to reverse the disease, but there are treatments that can ease your symptoms and make your relapses less severe and happen less often.

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    Emotional problems may include:

    • Depression, which is common in people with MS.
    • Anxiety.
    • Anger.
    • Inappropriate cheerfulness (euphoria).
    • Uncontrollable outbursts of crying or laughing at strange or inappropriate times.
    • Thoughts of suicide.

    Treating your emotional problems is as important as treating other symptoms of MS. Family counseling and counseling by other people who have MS are both available. If you need help finding a counselor or support group, contact your doctor or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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