Depression & Ataxia

Many people believe that living a good life is an entirely reasonable aspiration even with ataxia. However, for some, ataxia can cause mental and psychological anguish that comes with unanswered questions, stares of curious people, the fear of choking, and the progression of the disease. A person facing ataxia may experience many different emotions: anger, anxiety, denial, embarrassment, fear, frustration, grief, guilt, helplessness, isolation and uncertainty. These responses are perfectly normal; do not be embarrassed or afraid to seek help. Tell your neurologist or general doctor about your depression.

However, if your depression is causing you to feel suicidal, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

Excellent advise can be found at this website for you or your family member who is experiencing deep feelings of depression.

Suicide Prevention Help Center

Cerebellar patients and families generally find it helpful to know that cognitive and psychiatric problems may occur as a direct result of the illness. These challenges, beyond motor control, are not “in their head”, rather, they are in their brain. This fact sheet explores further the cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome and the set of problems that arises when the non-motor cerebellum is damaged.

Cognition & Emotion in Cerebellar Disorders FAQ

A book that has been helpful for coping with the diagnosis of any disease is: “AfterShock: What to do when the Doctor Gives You – or Someone you Love- a Devastating Diagnosis” by Jessie Gruman, Ph.D.

From the Introduction: “Receiving bad health news sparks great personal upheaval. Some people rage against the unfairness, others wither from sadness. Some people lose their faith, others find it. Some are torn between their fear of pain and their fear of death. Families are wracked by the threat of loss. It is a time when nothing is certain and the future looks dark.”

This book provides vital information to cope with the issues related to a difficult diagnosis, such as ataxia.


What is Depression? Mental Health Information from the National Institute of Mental Health

A short essay on the causes, signs & symptoms, risks, diagnosis, and treatments for depression