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MS Article
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Can Anything Help to

Reduce Depression

in Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis Depression

There are different types of multiple sclerosis depression or depression that is connected with Multiple Sclerosis.  One of the forms of depression, which is more common for those of us with MS is called seasonal affective disorder or SAD for short. Symptoms of SAD include depression, insomnia, irritability, fatigue or even problems with thinking clearly or with figuring things out.

SAD is a seasonal depression that is more common than you think and it is based on how a person's body reacts to the shortened periods of day light hours during the winter months. SAD can present a much worse dilemma for people that live in countries where they receive less day light hours per day than the average day light hours that a person receives that lives in a country closer to the equator.  It has been found that there is a link between how often people have seasonal depression and how low their vitamin D levels are in their bodies.

Vitamin D Multiple Sclerosis:

Our skin produces vitamin D as a response to sunlight shining on the skin. But for the body to produce vitamin D, this also involves the liver and the kidneys for this to work as it should. 

If there is a problem with the liver or the kidneys not doing their job in the process, the generation of vitamin D in the body may not take place as it should.  In this type of case, vitamin D should be taken as a supplement.  I take DRY vitamin D, as opposed to taking finsh oil supplements to get enough vitamin D, because the fish also also contains viamin A, which our bodies can only tolerate a limited amount of each day, without us reaching a toxic level of vitamin A.

Our bodies need the increased levels of vitamin D to boost our immune system and make it easier for our bodies to be able to fight off infections. Adequate levels of Vitamin D also help to reduce or even possibly eliminate depression.  It is so much more vital to those of us that have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis to find ways to boost our vitamin D levels, since Multiple Sclerosis sets us up for our immune systems to become much weaker to start with.  Multiple Sclerosis can also contribute to depression, and the depression that results from a larger vitamin D deficiency just makes things so much worse.

For those of us that have been given the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, it is so much more important for us to find a way to boost our vitamin D levels because MS research is also showing that vitamin D has a protective quality for those of us with Multiple Sclerosis, since vitamin D can help to reduce MS relapses and exacerbations.

For me, I have found that for my own case of Multiple Sclerosis, that if I do find a way to increase my vitamin D levels, this reduces the number of infections that I end up having each month, as well as reducing how frequent and how severe the infections can become when they do occur.

Those of us that have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis have a tougher time getting enough vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, since there is typcially a very real problem with those of us with Multiple Sclerosis being intolerant to heat.   Because of the problem we have with our bodies over reacting to heat, sitting in the sunshine to boost our vitamin D levels is often out of the question.  This forces those of us diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis to take vitamin supplements to boost our vitamin D levels.

Our bodies need vitamin D for several vitally important functions of our body on a daily basis.  Only so much of the vitamin D can be obtained from food sources.

Besides our body producing vitamin D, as a response to being exposed to sunlight, our brains also produce serotonin in response to the daylight hours, but being out in the sun works much better at boosting serotonin levels than being indoors.  As the sunlight enters our eyes, this stimulates a gland in the brain called the pineal gland, which regulates our levels of serotonin, as well as our wake-sleep cycle.  When we are not exposed to sunlight often enough, this can reduce our vitamin D levels and increase our chances of MS insomnia.

Serotonin is one of the hormones that helps to regulate our wake-sleep cycles and helps us to maintain a regular sleep pattern. When our bodies do not produce enough serotonin this disrupts our bodies natural rhythm of our wake-sleep cycle and this can greatly reduce how much restful sleep that we actually end up with. Ending up with enough restful sleep is so important for those of us that have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis for several reasons.  

The majority of those us that are battling with Multiple Sclerosis have more problems already with decreased levels of serotonin and the problems of the reaction of our bodies to the shortened day light hours just adds to the problems that we already are experiencing because of the effects of MS on our bodies with reducing our serotonin levels. This can contribute to more extreme MS insomnia.

Serotonin also helps to regulate mood.  If the levels of serotonin in our brains drop too low, depression, anxiety and total unrest can result, which just adds to the ms fatigue that we that those of us with MS may already be experiencing. If the serotonin deficiency is severe enough, the depression can become more severe to the point that it heads towards becoming more of suicidal tendencies.

What can be done about low levels of serotonin and with SAD?

There are 2 options that I found that can help to reduce problems with SAD and low serotonin levels in MS.

One option is to take vitamin D tablets or soft gels, as either dry vitamin D or as fish oil vitamin D. I tend to take the dry vitamin D in tablet form, so that I can take it in larger doses, as needed (this is recommended by my doctor, since vitamin D is NOT considered as toxic like some other vitamins are if taken at higher doses for longer periods of time).  Typically, from what I have found, often those of us with MS need to take 6,000 iu to 8,000 iu of DRY vitamin D to reduce depression, increase how well calcium and magnesium are absorbed by our bodies and for boosting our immune systems to reduce the frequency of things like how often we can get the flu each yar.

The Second option is to purchase a device that uses what is called light therapy, which uses light that mimics natural sunlight fairly closely that allows you to be able to use it to shine this light on your skin each day to boost vitamin D and serotonin levels in the body and to rid the body of SAD.

The benefits of using this type of light is that it eliminates the effects of being exposed to ultra violet radiation that we also are exposed to when we sun bathe, as well as mimizing the problem that those of us with Multiple Sclerosis tend to have with heat.  Light therapy can actual help to reduce or maybe even eliminate some of the problems with multiple sclerosis depression by increasing vitamin D levels and with elevating the amounts of serotonin in the brain, which helps to regulate mood.

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is known for accelerating the aging process and causing skin cancer. Although this often is not a concern for those of us with Multiple Sclerosis, since our reactions to ms heat can keep us often from getting enough sun exposure, it is still something to keep in mind when sunning yourself.

Using the light therapy device allows you to eliminate the exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, while allowing you to receive the benefits that would be generated in your body from your skin being exposed to sun light on a daily basis. It would be better if you can find a way to sit out in the sun without covering up all of your skin to allow your skin to be able to produce the serotonin and vitamin D that your body needs, but if finding the time and a way for you to get out in the sunlight enough during the day is a problem for you, the light therapy is a good alternative.

Other reasons for depression are also present for those of us that have been given the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.  Because of the way that Multiple Sclerosis scrambles or confuses the nerve signals throughout the body, this often results in our central nervous systems short-circuiting when they are over stimulated.

MS Stress or Multiple Sclerosis Stress

Those with MS have a much bigger problems when it comes to how we react to stress. Multiple Sclerosis is already known to cause to short circuit our nervous systems on its own, but on top of this, how we react to any type of stimulation, which includes all of our reactions to stress, can actually cause more relapses, exacerbations or attacks and actually cause our ms symptoms to become even worse than they were before the stress occurred.

Multiple Sclerosis depression is so much worse as we have more ms symptoms appear because this can actually make us function less and restrict how often we can be around other people.  Isolation doesn't help those of us that have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. This just contributes to how discouraged and even how depressed we can become.

Finding social connections is very important for those of us with MS.  Also finding ms support groups can make a huge difference in helping to reduce depression in ms because this gives us an outlet where we can talk about all of the things that we have been experiencing because of the effects of Multiple Sclerosis on our bodies.

Things that can add to multiple sclerosis depression are:

* lack of sleep or ms insomnia - when we don't get enough sleep, this has been prove through clinical sleep deprivation to studies to affect our moods and our mental well being.

When we do not have adequate sleep on a daily basis (at least 8 to 9.5 hours each day), this also reduces the amount of serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which help to regulate our moods and also help to regulate our wake-sleep cycle.

Finding ways to reduce MS insomnia can help in a large way in reducing how over reactive our emotions can become and with reducing ms depression by a large amount.

Volunteering to help our where we can help, regardless of our physical limitations because of MS can also help to reduce multiple sclerosis depression. Helping other people can help pick up our spirits too.  Focusing on helping others, where we can also helps to take our minds off of our own problems for a while and helps us to realize that our lives are still worth living and this gives us back a feeling of self worth again.

Yoga breathing, deep breathing, meditation and finding ways to relax can also help with reducing depression.  When we take large breaths and exhale slowly and do this several times, this has been found to help to calm down the nervous system and relax the mind.

* Worrying and anxiety can also contribute to multiple sclerosis depression.

Finding meaning in our lives and finding something that we can do can help to reduce how much we sit and worry about things can help reduce this to a large degree.  When we find a purpose for our lives or find a goal that helps us to focus our mind on something other than worrying about things, this can also help with reducing the multiple sclerosis depression problem.

Look on the positive side of things.  If we let ourselves we can just sit and cry about everything all of the time, but this isn't going to help you function better or feel better physically, mentally or emotionally. Finding meaning in our lives and finding ways to connect with other people and de-stress can help to calm down how much we worry also.

There are also alternative and natural ways that we have found that can help with reducing ms depression, including:

* ms meditation

* ms hypnosis

* tone therapy

* ms acupuncture

* ms vitamin supplements

* certain ms herbs

and other methods that do help with reducing depression in multiple sclerosis.

We do not recommend attempting to deal with ms depression on your own, but find and work with medical practitioners, doctors or other medical professionals that are trained and experienced in working with other patients that have also battled with multiple sclerosis depression that can supervised, with whatever method is being used for you..

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