Adjusting to life with multiple sclerosis (MS) can significantly impact a person’s emotional well-being; however, like physical health, the emotional impact of MS can be managed with the proper attention and care.
When discussing MS care, a common emphasis is to focus on the outward, physical symptoms. However, there have been strides made within the community to also talk about the invisible symptoms, which are less often acknowledged, though wide-spread. Depression, for example, is one of the most common symptoms of MS, and can make other MS symptoms feel worse, such as cognitive problems, pain and fatigue.1,2 Changes such as these can affect a person’s relationships, communication, and quality of life, resulting in loss of interest in activities, change in appetite or sleep patterns, and changes in energy levels.2
Like other aspects of wellness, emotional well-being can be nurtured and enhanced with the appropriate care. That’s why in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month and World MS Day on May 30th, we’re sharing tips to help you prioritize and address your emotional wellness.
Rosalind Kalb, PhD, a clinical psychologist and program consultant for leading advocacy group Can Do MS, stresses, “In today’s health environment, it is especially important to tune into your mental health and track any changes that you may be experiencing. There are resources available to support any of these changes you may be feeling.” Below are some highlights on how to prioritize your mental health while living with the unpredictability of the condition.
If you, or someone you love, is living with MS, check out more tips for addressing emotional well-being on MSPath2Care.com.
Report Any Mood Changes to Your Healthcare Provider: Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are more common in people with MS than in the general population as a result of changes in the brain and in the immune system.3 They are nothing to be embarrassed about and are treatable, so stay in touch with how you are feeling and talk to your healthcare provider if you notice any changes in your mood or behavior. Treatment may include talk therapy, medication if needed, and exercise.
According to Dr. Kalb, it is extremely important that routine mental health screening is done for people living with MS in order to detect conditions such as depression.4 Online screening services provide quick methods to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. Additionally, telemedicine is an excellent way to communicate with your healthcare provider via video conferencing from the comfort of your home.
Nurturing Your Relationships: Having a support system is incredibly important to those living with a chronic illness and can provide encouragement, intimacy, and connection. Reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness can be accomplished by building meaningful relationships and connecting with those around you on a regular basis. Contacting friends and family via social media and video conferencing are great ways to keep in touch.
Exercise: Exercise tailored to a person’s abilities and limitations has proven to benefit mood and quality of life.3 Set realistic goals and stick to them, so that you can incorporate exercise into your day-to-day routine. If you’re unsure of what type of exercise is right for you, contact a physical therapist (PT) who specializes in MS and can help you implement the right type of exercise into your life or check with your neurologist’s office as they may have some helpful resources.
Find New Techniques to Manage Stress: Stress is part of everyday life and sometimes, MS can make your daily routine seem overwhelming. However, in conjunction with talk therapy and treatment, there are a few other techniques you can try to help manage stress. Some of these include relaxation exercises, exercise/sports, journaling, and enjoying hobbies, which may help you feel more in balance.
In the face of MS, individuals may focus on their physical health and neglect their emotional health, but addressing both aspects are key to finding wellness. Dr. Kalb emphasizes, “Emotional well-being is an essential facet of your day-to-day life.”
For more information on how to be proactive in your MS care, visit www.MSPath2Care.com. MS Path 2 Care sheds light on the many challenges those living with MS face and encourages patients to work with their support partners and broader healthcare teams to address all aspects of care and wellness through a number of resources and tools. MS Path 2 Care was born out of a collaboration between Sanofi Genzyme and Can Do MS.
©2020 Genzyme Corporation. All rights reserved. Sanofi and Genzyme are registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. MAT-US-2003591. Last Updated: 04/2020.
1. Emotional Changes. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. https://www.natonalmssociety.org/Symptoms- Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms/Emotional-Changes. Accessed April 29, 2020.
2. Depression. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. https://www.natonalmssociety.org/Symptoms- Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms/Depression. Accessed April 29, 2020.
3. Minden S., Turner A., Kalb R., Burke D., Emotional Disorders in Multiple Sclerosis. Clinical Bulletin, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2014. http://www.natonalmssociety.org/NatonalMSSociety/media/MSNatonalFiles/Brochures/Clinical- Bulletin-Emotional-Disorders-5-5-14.pdf. Accessed April 29, 2020.
4. Shadday A. Understanding and Treating Depression in Multiple Sclerosis. MSAA; 2007. Accessed April 29, 2020.
The preceding article is content provided by our sponsor MS Path 2 Care. The views and opinions expressed in the content above are not the views and opinions of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, LLC.
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.
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