Chronic stress weakens the immune system and increases the risk for a number of illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Most research studies about the effects of stress on MS have been inconclusive, but one recent study by Dr. David Mohr at the University of California, San Francisco, found significant increases in MS relapses following stressful life events, the National MS Society website reports.
Stress is everywhere, good and bad, and everyone is somehow affected by stress on a daily basis. For those of us with MS, stress can elevate our symptoms and could possibly even lead to a full-blown exacerbation.
There are three different types of stress: acute, episodic, and chronic.
Acute stress is the most common. It involves recent pressures and demands, and it usually has a short-term duration. Examples include work deadlines, hurrying to get the kids to school, and going to the dentist.
But acute stress can also be good, keeping you feeling vital, alive, excited about the day ahead. It can include such things as job promotions or skiing down the face of a mountain. Things that are fun and thrilling, but also can end up being exhausting if you stay at that stress level.
Episodic stress is when people are living in crisis and chaos. They are always rushed, and late to events or appointments. This type of stress usually surrounds a type A personality, people who tend to take on too much.
Grinding chronic stress is destructive
Chronic stress is the worst type of stress. It is a grinding stress that wears on you day-to-day, and destroys lives, bodies and minds. It can come from living in an unhappy marriage, living in poverty, and a having dysfunctional family, just to name a few sources.
Stress can cause headaches, back pain, jaw pain, stomach problems, anger, irritability, anxiety, and depression.
For me, the impact of stress is real and has a huge impact on my MS. With excess stress it becomes harder for me to walk, my legs turn to rubber, my blood pressure elevates, and it becomes harder to think clearly.
Some relaxation tips I have found (and intend to use) on the internet are designed to help alleviate stress. They include meditation, yoga, a warm towel on the neck, exercise, music, laughing, deep breathing, and talking to a therapist, friends, family or support group.
Also suggested was to be aware of what makes you stressed, and to remove the causes of stress in your life. It may be a toxic relationship, dealing with difficult people, or time management.
Stress is just a part of life. It’s nothing that we can get away from, but by using relaxation tips and being aware of our what creates stress in our lives, we can make it more manageable.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.