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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, which in turn affects the whole body and causes a variety of symptoms. Fatigue, vision problems, numbness and tingling, muscle spasms, stiffness and weakness, mobility problems, pain, problems with thinking, learning and planning, sexual problems, bladder problems, bowel problems, as well as speech and swallowing difficulties.

However, the physical problems are not the only ones experienced by MS patients. The emotional burden of a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is significant for both patients, and loved ones and depression and anxiety are not uncommon. While family and friends often make a great job offering their support, it might not be enough. Many times MS sufferers, as well as patients or relatives, need professional support and don’t know where to find it.

When an MS patient or caregiver feels difficulties concentrating, remembering details and making decisions, fatigue and decreased energy, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness and/or pessimism, insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping, irritability, restlessness, loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, overeating or appetite loss, persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems, persistent sadness, anxiety, or empty feelings, or thoughts of suicide, depression may be at stake.

In these cases, the best course is to seek a physician for a diagnosis and proper treatment, or a psychologist directly. However, not all cases are so serious, and people might just need someone to talk to and share what they are going through. Where to find support? Many hospitals and specialized medical centers have support groups for MS patients and caregivers. The idea is that people can communicate with others going through a similar experience.

Organizations are also a good option. While the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation are the two largest organizations in the US with local chapters throughout the country, there are also local groups and organizations that may provide support. “Self-help groups bring people together who share common life experiences for support, education and mutual aid,” state the National MS Society.

“National MS Society self-help groups focus on support, advocacy, education, and wellness or may be more social in nature. Some groups also serve specific populations, such as young adults, parents with MS, care partners or African-Americans. Other groups may have a specific focus, such as physical activity, wellness or healthy living.”

But support groups are not the only options. For people who cannot leave the house, or who prefer other options, there are also other programs and online resources. “Social networking has become one of the most popular ways to connect online. But although public social networks may offer an exciting opportunity for connections, they can also carry risks to personal privacy and medical history – particularly for people living with a chronic health condition like MS. That’s why the National MS Society created, a social networking website and online community for people living with MS, their loved ones and experts to connect in a safe and secure environment.”

Learn more about MS here:

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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Leonor Mateus Ferreira is an emerging, young journalist, with a bachelor's degree in Communication and post-graduate degree in Multiplatform Journalism. She is particularly interested in politics and current affairs, and is currently studying for a masters degree in economics and public policies.
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