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Emotional Disturbances and SPMS

Emotional Disturbances and SPMS

About 65% of patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) will progress to a second stage of the disease called secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS). People with SPMS often have a variety of symptoms that can lead to a roller coaster of emotional changes.

Here are some ways to cope with the emotional disturbances associated with SPMS.

Coming to terms with symptoms

Leading a life with RRMS or SPMS can be an emotionally challenging experience as it requires drastic lifestyle changes while coming to terms with having to live with a chronic and progressive disease. Trying to stay optimistic and taking things as they come can go a long way in coping with stress and keeping the focus on things that are enjoyable.

Take part in activities that interest you

Keeping yourself busy with activities such as socializing with friends, taking part in indoor or outdoor games, reading, or anything that helps steer your mind clear of negative thoughts can be helpful. However, it is also important not to over-exert yourself; keep in mind limitations such as your pain and fatigue levels before embarking on any physical activity. Ensure that you rest adequately and seek help from friends and family whenever needed.

Find time to relax

It is often difficult to find some time for yourself in the midst of daily demands as well as those of the disease. Try to find time in the day that you can dedicate solely to yourself. This could be early in the morning, late in the evening, or any other time that might be ideal for you to wind down. During that time, you can practice relaxation techniques such as meditation to calm and soothe yourself.

Cultivate a positive frame of mind

Living with SPMS can invite all sorts of pessimism that can further increase your emotional burden and even lead to depression. It is important that you find new ways of being positive about your life. Even if you don’t feel at your best, you can try to put a positive spin on life with some practice and perseverance.

You are your own inspiration

Remember that there can be no bigger inspiration for you than yourself. Take a moment to look back at your life’s journey and all the obstacles you’ve managed to successfully overcome so far. This can be your inspiration when you experience dejection. Try to gauge what life has taught you through the years and use that experience to create a motivational narrative for yourself.

It’s okay to be over-reactive sometimes

Some patients with MS often experience a condition called the pseudobulbar affect (PBA) in which a display of emotions such as laughter, sadness, joy, anger, or frustration happens unprovoked. In the event that you are experiencing PBA, understand that this is an expected symptom of the disease and should not be a cause for distress.

While you can try to be as mindful as possible, having a supportive and understanding group of family, friends, and co-workers can help you overcome sudden emotional changes.

Keep yourself updated

Quite often, the reason for emotional upheavals is not having access to the right information at the right time. Keeping yourself abreast of all the recent developments in MS treatment and symptom management and knowing that there is a large community of people dedicated to finding a cure for the disease can be very reassuring.

Our website offers extensive information about the nature of MS, its symptoms, diagnosis, and current and upcoming therapies. You can also check out columns written by MS patients themselves for some inspirational reading. Our forums also offer a place for those affected by MS to interact with one another, ask questions, and find information.


Last updated: Oct. 21, 2019


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.

Total Posts: 12
Özge has a MSc. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Queen Mary University of London. She worked as a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester for six years in the field of Behavioural Neurology before moving into science communication. She worked as the Research Communication Officer at a London based charity for almost two years.

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One comment

  1. Claudia Chamberlain says:

    Thank you for this article. Can you please write one about common mood altering drugs, (Celexa, Remeron) and the percentage of SPMSers on these mood enhancers? Particulary interested in what drugs are found helpful and common side effects.

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