Monday, September 22, 2014

Thursday, September 04, 2008 Marj Weelson, Community Member, asks

Q: Does multiple Sclerosis cause brain disfunction?

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Answers (3)
Merely Me, Health Guide
9/ 5/08 8:29am

Hiyah Marj!

 

I can answer your question in one word, okay two, "Hecks yeah!"

 

Yes, Multiple Sclerosis can absolutely have an effect upon cognition and thinking.  I will first direct you to an excellent article right here on Health Central by Dr. Gross who writes about the Cognitive Problems in Multiple Sclerosis (part one).  Dr. Gross outlines some of the major issues as including the following:

  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Thinking Speed
  • Executive Functioning (planning and judgment)
  • Visuospatial Perception

There is are also more than several informative articles to be found on The National Multiple Sclerosis Society web site including this one which provides a thorough discussion of how MS can affect cognitive function.

 

I will also cite Anne Frederickson in her article, Multiple Sclerosis and the Self, where she provides a very detailed description of just some of the problems one may experience with cognition when you have MS:

 

"The MS Center lists some of the most common problems of cognition as problems of attention and concentration. Patients often have problems concentrating on more than one thing at one time. They are easily distracted, and when they try to get back to the initial activity, they often have to begin over. This distraction can then affect their memory of those things because it may fail to be encoded in memory. If the information actually enters their memory, patients may have problems retrieving information. In addition, they may also have problems with speech. Britell notes that while patients may have problems thinking of the right word, more often they have problems forming words and putting them together. In addition to physical visual problems, patients may also have perceptual problems. Britell gives the example of looking for a pair of socks in a drawer but being unable to find them even though they may be right on top. Patients are unable to make sense of visual patterns."

 

I can also personally tell you from my experience that I suffer from congitive difficulties due to my MS.  I feel what some call the "brain fog" where my brain slows down and I literally cannot think straight.  This usually happens when I am doing something demanding all my faculties like bill paying.  I now have my husband check over my work when I pay the bills because I have been making some mistakes.  I am also a whole lot more forgetful and have to write myself a zillion post-its so I don't forget important things.  This has been hard on my self esteem because I am usually the person in the family to remember everything and remind everyone else of things.  Now I need a little help.

 

The good news in all of this, however, is that MS doesn't change your intelligence or who you are.  It just messes with your ability to think and remember things at times. 

 

You list a category tag of depression.  Perhaps my comrades can jump in and cite some literature pertaining to the correlation between depression and MS.  I will just tell you again, personally, that I suffer from depression as well as MS.  If you read any of the support group message boards for MS, you will see that you are not alone if you have both MS and depression.  Not only do folk with MS have to deal with coping with a chronic disease, there is also a biological link between MS and depression.  MS can also affect mood.

 

I also write about the topic of depression here at Health Central.  If you are interested, here is my profile link.

 

I am so glad you asked this question as this is a topic I am very interested in as well.  I do hope you come back to Health Central to ask any other questions you might have as well as to tell us how you are doing.

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Lisa Emrich, Health Guide
9/ 5/08 12:03pm

Hi Marj,

 

Merely Me provided excellent resources for you to check out.  I'm going to go at your question in a different way.

 

In Multiple Sclerosis, damage is being done to the insulating coating of the nerves (myelin) which sometimes results in damaged nerves.  This damage is seen not just in the spinal cord but also in the white matter of the brain.

 

Any damage to the white matter of the central nervous system can affect functions of the brain and body.  Here's an Introduction to Brain Dysfunction from the Merck Manual.  Memory and mood can definitely be affected.

 

Damage to the front part of the frontal lobe in the brain can result in:

 

  • Impaired concentration
  • Reduced fluency of speech
  • Apathy
  • Inattentiveness
  • Delayed responses to questions
  • A striking lack of inhibition, including socially inappropriate behavior

 

People who lose their inhibitions may be inappropriately euphoric or depressed, excessively argumentative or passive, and vulgar. They may show no regard for the consequences of their behavior. They may also repeat what they say.

Also:

The brain's mechanisms for storing information and recalling it from memory are located primarily in the temporal and frontal lobes, but many areas of the brain are involved in memory. Emotions originating from the limbic system can influence the storing of memories and their retrieval. The limbic system includes part of the cerebrum and some structures deep within the brain. Areas that are responsible for alertness and awareness in the brain stem also contribute to memory. Because memory involves many interwoven brain functions, virtually any type of brain damage can result in amnesia.

I hope that this helps in your search for answers.  I look forward to talking with you again.

Lisa

 

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Steve Gail, Community Member
3/19/11 1:30pm

How does MS effect the brain?

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By Marj Weelson, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/18/12, First Published: 09/04/08