Additional Info about Multiple Sclerosis
Some months ago, my colleague, Donna Smith, M.A., wrote a blog, presenting some basic information about Multiple Sclerosis and, specifically, neuropsychological and psychological sequelae of this condition. Specifically, she noted that many individuals suffer from depression, both as an organic manifestation of the disease, as well as a psychological reaction to the disabling effects of this disorder. I wanted to provide a few more facts regarding MS, particularly as it pertains to women’s health. Recent statistics have suggested that this disease disproportionately affects women, with a 3:1 ratio. Of equal significance, the overwhelming majority of females diagnosed with this condition, suffer from a distinct subtype of the disease, referred to as the Relapsing-Remitting subtype. Women, and on rare occasions men, with this form of MS, experience temporary periods of symptom flare-ups or “relapses,” followed by symptom-free periods or lengths of time in which their specific symptoms are greatly diminished. Additionally, MS patients with this subtype may experience widely varying types of symptoms, with equally variable symptom intensity and duration. To make matters worse, while women have been found to be at higher risk of symptom flare-ups within one week of the beginning of their menstrual cycle, these relapses are, otherwise, extremely unpredictable. This lack of predictability with regard to both when symptoms are to occur, as well as what symptoms women with Multiple Sclerosis will experience, leads to substantial anxiety for many. Therefore, in addition to accurately evaluating for the presence of depression, MS patients, particularly females with the disease, should be assessed for the presence of anxiety symptoms. This leads to more effective symptom management and improvement in women’s quality of life when living with this condition.