Can Emotional Health Influence MS Treatment Outcomes?

Can Emotional Health Influence MS Treatment Outcomes?

exerciseEmotional health is important when battling any illness, including multiple sclerosis (MS). Despite this, sometimes the benefits of emotional health are overlooked by healthcare providers. Excessive stress can lead to anxiety and depression, which increases hormones such as adrenalin and glucocorticoids that shut down the immune system. Glucocorticoids have well-known negative effects on the nervous system.

It is no surprise then that two research teams, including one supported by the National MS Society, are studying ways to increase emotional wellness in people with MS.

For example, Kimberly Beckwith McGuire, PhD, and her co-workers at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, NJ published a recent report on their evaluation of a psychoeducational MS wellness program in the International Journal of MS Care. The scientists studied forty-three people with MS who participated in a 10-week wellness program. The program involved 90-minute group sessions aimed at increasing awareness of social, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual factors. Eleven people with MS who were not in the program served as controls. The subjects filled out surveys to assess depression, anxiety, stress, cognition, pain, social support, and fatigue.

The group participating in the wellness program experienced statistically significant reductions in depression, anxiety, overall mental health, perceived stress, and pain compared to the controls. The program could serve as a model for the supplemental treatment of people with MS in general.

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A second study published in BioMedCentral Psychiatry by Dr. Keryn L. Taylor and collaborators examined 2459 people with MS who filled out an online survey capturing information on demographics; diagnostic history; level of disability; conditions occurring alongside MS; fatigue; depression; and lifestyle and health behaviors.

About one-fifth of people in this study had depression. Within that group, about 93% had clinically significant fatigue. Poor diet seemed to increase the risk for depression. In fact, dietary factors also decreased the risk for depression, including taking omega-3 fatty acids (particularly flaxseed oil) supplements and vitamin D supplements, eating fish regularly, meditating, and consuming moderate alcohol.

The results of these two studies are promising and underscore the importance of not just managing the symptoms of MS, but also paying attention to emotional health and lifestyle factors.

Further research on lifestyle factors and their impact on MS is a priority of the National MS society, so additional studies of this nature are likely in the works. Hopefully this research will have a positive impact on improving the quality of life of those with the disease.

14 comments

  1. Liz says:

    Why comment?

    I’ve had MS for a very long time, seldomn, if ever painful….

    When’s there gonna be anything done?

    – please?

    • Karen says:

      Liz,
      Google Dr. Terry Wahls! She healed herself from secondary progressive MS with only diet and lifestyle! She went from tilt recline wheel chair to biking to work 5 miles every day! I’m trying to get the audio version of her book, so I can listen to it with my friend who has MS.
      Best of luck! 🙂
      ~Karen

    • Rick T says:

      Liz, a lot of people make money off of giving advice on how to cure MS. e.g. people who sell you diet plans or drugs or other b.s.
      The truth is, it is caused by a virus that they haven’t figured out yet. Their wasn’t a cure for aids until they just started trying different cocktails of anti viral medicines together until they found a combination that worked. I know because I saw my youngest brother die in my mother’s arms. I have had MS since 1997 and the establishment can’t tell me much more today than they could in 1997. There’s not enough of us dying quickly enough to warrant a similar effort. Most doctors can’t admit that they just don’t know. So all we can do is eat good, exercise, maintain a healthy mind and habits, and hope to find a good, smart doctor who really cares about you.

  2. Carolyn J Maxwell says:

    My son is 43 and has been recently diagnosed with M S. I am asking for help for him to understand what to do. This is all new to us, please help us. Thank you.

    • Carlos says:

      I was diagnose 15. Months ago . I am 48.
      1.- keep an active life, I do 1 hour a day of excersice .
      2.- Eat healthy as best as you can. I am trying to be gluten free .
      3.- Check levels of vitamins , I was low on Vitamin D . I am taking supplements Every day. D3, omega3, mangnesium, and another supplement call Protandim.
      My neurologist recommend to me Copaxone ,3 times a week, I am finish my 1 year and feel better. No relapses.
      Be positive and keep going with your normal life…

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Hi Carolyn,

      We are sorry to hear about your son and his diagnosis. Carlos has some good points in helping those who are newly diagnosed. I would also add finding a good local support group to help through the tougher times and work with a doctor who you trust. Physical activity, mental stimulation and being watchful over diet and environment are also things to consider.

  3. Karen says:

    I don’t know where my comment went, so I’m going to type it again down here.

    Google Dr. Terry Whals. She healed herself from seccondary progressive MS with only diet and lifestyle! She went from needing a tilt recline wheel chair to biking 5 miles to work every day. I’m looking into getting her audio book so I can listen to it with my friend who has MS.

    Best wishes,
    Karen 🙂

  4. Daniel says:

    Good morning all, my name is DJ, I was diagnosed last May, I had been working in my brothers warehouse for a few years prior to knowing, when I got the diagnosis, it all started making sense…. Doctor told me, heat and stress, we’re two of the worst things for this disease, so I left my job, cause it was very stressfull after finding out about having a disease…. Have a awesome wife, and two awesome teenagers (my girls) who I have always been able to provide for….. Now I am just not sure, what to do …tried applying for disability and just got rejected… Need help, bad!!!

  5. Janice Golding says:

    I was DX in Aug 2013 at 40 and was driving Truck. I have RRMS and no diet or even exercise has made a difference. I sweat and the Nerve pain kicks in. I have issues just sweeping and moping a 7000 sq foot house and I can’t stand for long and stress makes nerve pain kick in as well for me. I’m on a DMD called Tecfidera and it has worked I believe in the spot in my brain but not b4 the damage was done. I have been fighting for disability for 4 years with no luck but most will tell you the first time you always get rejected I know some that got it first time and then you have cases like mine that even with a lawyer you can’t get help. I had to file for food stamps, Cashaid, and Medical ( I live in California ) which I hate all of it. Its not easy nor will it ever be with MS we all just have to be strong and teach ourselves and others ( which you will find if you haven’t already ) Even your DR’s you may have to teach. Like I have. I hope this helps, and welcome to your new life 😉

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