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.

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 counselling and counselling by other people who have MS are both available. If you need help finding a counsellor or support group, contact your doctor or the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Andrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology

Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015