Neurophysologist Describes Many Unknown Complications of MS
Dr. Lauren Strober, Research Scientist in Neuropsychology at Kessler Foundation, discusses the challenges patients with multiple sclerosis face. She describes secondary complications many people with MS exerience, such as fatigue and lack of sleep.
"We're speaking with Doctor Lauren Strober, with Kessler foundation, also research assistant professor, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Doctor describe your research here at the foundation, particularly as it relates to MS. So I have two avenues of research. The primary one looks at employment, and outcomes, and quality of life. And the second is actually on secondary complications associated with MS. Things such as depression, fatigue, sleep disturbance, personality changes, things that are not commonly thought of in MS but actually are quite debilitating and pretty common. Talk about the depression connection. So depression is much more prevalent. About 50% of MS patients report incidents of depression during their lifetime. It's much higher compared to the general population, as well as other medical conditions. So we know that it's a significant problem. It's both directly related to the illness, but moreso related to psychological factors, such as coping and cognitive impairment, and social support, a perceived lack of social support in particular, all relate to depression in MS. Let's try to break this down for folks, because I don't know what most people think when they try to imagine or think about someone dealing with MS, or that you know someone dealing with MS, or someone watching right now has MS. But try to describe for folks, because you have so much experience dealing with patients with MS, what they are facing? And how it could manifest itself in someone who ultimately winds up dealing with depression? Well I think the biggest factor about MS, you know, at this point there's no cure. We don't know exactly what causes it, and it's a variable and very unpredictable disease. So you don't know if, you know, perhaps if you'll be disabled in a wheelchair in 20 years, or maybe five years. So I think that's the biggest part, it's that sense of locus of control, what we call their perceived ability to manage an illness and feel like we can exert some behavior change, or some control over an illness. MS is not that type of illness. It's not something maybe we can see a marker and say, "oh it's coming down" or it's getting better, and perceive what's gonna happen in the future. So I think the depression, a lot of times, is that uncertainty, the perceived uncertainty or lack of control over the illness that you have. What about for family members? Have you interacted with family members who... I mean they are trying to be there for family members with MS, and you're talking about this loss of control... what about for family members? Well certainly they could feel the similar loss of control and uncertainty about their future as well..."