A whopping 43 percent of all people with MS have some type of anxiety disorder. Worse, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, “Anxiety is perhaps the most taxing and under-treated psychological effect of living with MS.”
Which makes sense. The unpredictability of the disease and its progression may make planning your life hard and living it even harder. Emotional changes, says the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, are part and parcel of the disease itself.
For starters, most of us don’t know much about the disease when we learn that we have it, and fear of the unknown is at the top of the anxiety list. Nerve damage in the brain along with some MS medications can also lead to emotional changes. Yet according to the Society, “In the face of MS, people may tend to focus primarily on their physical health and neglect their emotional health — which is an essential component of overall health and wellness.”
Though no single approach works for everyone, here are some simple tips you can use to get started.
Better sleep. Solving a sleep disturbance may not be simple or easy, but assessing your sleep with this one-page sleep assessment tool is. Understanding the problem is the first step in solving it, and solving it — especially for those with MS — is critical.
Sleep disturbance in people with MS can lead to a long list of physical, chemical and emotional changes and can worsen anxiety, irritability and depression. For an equally long list of reasons, people with MS are prone to sleep disturbance.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, “Studies suggest that people with MS may be up to three times more likely to experience sleep disturbances than the general population, and about two times as likely to experience a reduced quality of sleep.”
Some of that is the result of lesions and damage to the brain caused by MS which is believed to disrupt our body clocks and sleep-wake cycles. Add that to restless legs, pain, spasms and spasticity.
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