Depression and MS

This blog was originally published on August 15, 2014 and updated on October 29, 2019.

We’re always saddened when a favorite celebrity dies. But somehow the death by suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams has felt like a sucker-punch to the gut. How could someone so seemingly full of life, someone who lit up so many other lives, have arrived at such a dark place that he’d take his own life?


In the aftermath of Williams’ death, we’ve been reminded that he long struggled with depression. We’ve been bombarded with messages urging us to be more aware of mental illness in general and depression in particular, and social media have been replete with videos of people telling us how we might help those in our lives who suffer from this insidious disease.

As anyone reading this blog is likely aware, the incidence of depression among people with multiple sclerosis appears to be higher than it is among the general population. As the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s excellent overview of MS and depression explains, depression in people with MS may be triggered by any number of circumstances, from physical and chemical changes to the brain and immune system to the challenges of coping with this unpredictable disease.

The thing is, when you’re in the depths of depression, you can’t make yourself understand or believe that there is any way out. You know people want to help you, but you have no confidence that they can.

But in truth, depression is treatable, and people can in fact help. So, if you are feeling depressed – even a little, because a little depression can morph into a lot of depression – call someone, tell someone, reach out to someone, and when they reach back, clasp their outstretched hand and hold on for dear life.

And if you know someone who is carrying a heavy heart, make yourself the one who reaches out.

The link above offers clinical guidance as to how to seek help for depression. My non-clinical hope is that all of us, famous or not, rich or poor, depressed or not, physically healthy or otherwise, remember that we are all in this together. Please keep your eyes and heart wide open for opportunities to help and be helped.

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Jennifer LaRue Huget, Blogger

Jennifer LaRue Huget was diagnosed with MS in 2001. A freelance writer and children's book author, she lives in Connecticut with her husband, two teenage kids, and two brown dogs. Her website is

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  • Candace Garrett   Aug 15, 2014 11:36 AM
    I am so grateful to you, Jennifer, for the insight you bring. I too suffer with MS, and perhaps with a depression I am in denial about, and have reacted the same way to Robin William's horrible death. The word "tribe" comes to mind when I think of all of the ones who help me through each day- they are my tribe, and I'm happy to include you in their numbers. Sometimes just the understanding of a plight reduces it to manageable proportion. Thank you.
  • Stacy Mullan   Aug 15, 2014 12:33 PM
    As someone who's been struggling with both MS & depression for at least the last 14 years I can relate. Thank you for this blog. My fatigue has really been kicking my butt this week which never helps. Come to find out Robin Williams was also battling the early on set of Parkinson's. May he rest in peace. My heart goes out to his family.
  • MARK TALLMAN   Aug 15, 2014 12:46 PM
    Since the passing of Mr Williams, I have made a conscious effort to work on my depression. Have called for consults to two hypnotherapists. Have MSsince1980, arthirits of the spine, chronic 24/7 pain, etc, etc..
  • Angela   Nov 12, 2019 6:43 AM
    Hi I’m new to this site, I am waiting for results and specialist, left arm and hand weakness with buzzing sensations, numb last 2 fingers. Right side which is my dominant side has a weak grip and both arms and hands become fatigued even when filing my nails. MRI showed cervical and lumbar degeneration. My husband commented that seem more tired than usual, some say it sounds like ms and others say not, I’ve also experienced discomfort and pressure to my left ribs . Can anyone shed any light please, not looking for ppl to diagnose but to see if what they m experiencing is ms symptoms maybe.
  • jasonbetancourt  Dec 2, 2019 12:38 PM
    I like the idea of going out of this world on your own terms instead of slowly disintegrating slowly with no friends and at a huge cost to society.