FAQs about ALS and mental health
Receiving a life-changing diagnosis of ALS can cause depression, with one-quarter of people living with ALS experiencing depression. If a person is feeling some of the symptoms of depression for two or more weeks — apathy, lack of appetite, tiredness, or feeling worthless or suicidal — it’s important to seek professional mental healthcare.
Anxiety cannot cause ALS. Although the exact causes of ALS are not known, increased risks for developing the disease can be linked to genetics, environmental exposures, and lifestyle habits. However, living with ALS can definitely cause anxiety.
There are certain symptoms of anxiety that can mimic some of the symptoms of ALS, including fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. However, the main sign of ALS is muscular weakness, followed by breathing difficulties, and speech problems. Anxiety about ALS after diagnosis can make some symptoms worse, especially as the disease progresses, so it’s important to seek professional mental healthcare.
In the U.S., Medicare Part B covers outpatient healthcare services and doctor’s appointments, including mental health counseling for people living with a disability such as ALS.
ALS mental health conditions include anxiety, which includes feelings of fear, dread, and uneasiness, and depression, which can cause symptoms such as irritability, lack of interest in activities, lack of energy, loss of appetite, and insomnia or oversleeping, among others. Neurodegeneration due to the disease itself may also affect the ability to control strong emotions, leading to behavioral changes.