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How to Support Someone Newly-diagnosed with MS

By Daryl H. Bryant (572 words)
Posted in Living with MS on August 22, 2019

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How to Support Someone Newly-diagnosed with MS

Receiving a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis can bring lifestyle changes, uncertainty, and many new emotions. These experiences affect not only the person who is diagnosed but their friends and family members as well. If your loved one was recently diagnosed, you may be wondering how to help. Here are 


Most people with MS are happy to answer a few questions about their condition and how it uniquely affects them. However, answering the same inquiries over and over can be exhausting. You can help by doing your own research about MS. Learn the signs, symptoms, and treatment options so you know what to expect. This will also help you ask better questions about your loved one’s health goals, symptoms, and daily living needs. 

If you choose to share any research you’ve done, avoid using the word “cure.” Although many people are successfully living symptom-free thanks to diet and lifestyle changes, there is no cure for MS. Remember that treatment decisions are ultimately up to your loved one, and respect their choices. 

Be Compassionate 

MS symptoms vary from person to person. Your loved one may sleep all night, only to experience debilitating fatigue during the day. They may experience mobility issues, brain fog, or other symptoms that make daily living tasks more challenging. 

Remember that they are still the same person underneath - they simply have a name for the multitude of symptoms they’ve been experiencing. Offer a listening ear if they’d like to talk about their diagnosis and their feelings.  Remain understanding if they cannot participate in certain activities the same way they used to. Offer to try new activities - perhaps you can go to a swim class together, try a new recipe, or plan a road trip

Stay Positive

A diagnosis is not a death sentence. Multiple Sclerosis is rarely fatal and most people with a diagnosis live about seven years less than the average life expectancy. There are many options for lifestyle modifications to ensure your loved one can live a productive life.  

Remain positive, even if your friend or family member is dealing with anxiety or depression - both can be symptoms of MS. And remember that being positive doesn't mean being unrealistic. It simply means that you focus on being grateful and compassionate, and you help your loved one work through their unique situation. If you’re not sure what to say, this article can help you phrase your thoughts and questions in positive ways. 

Ask Them

Every MS diagnosis is unique, which means every person’s needs vary. The best way to help is to ask, “What can I do?”. If you are looking for practical ways to help, offer to bring a meal, help with household tasks, or go with them to appointments. They may decline your help, and that’s okay. Let them know you are available and willing if and when they are ready for assistance. 

It can be challenging to know what to say and do when a loved one is diagnosed with MS. But doing something is better than sitting idly by. Remember that you are there to support your loved one, and allow them to guide discussions and decisions. Offer help where you can. Supporting someone with a new diagnosis of MS is about caring, listening, and asking. Your willingness to be part of their support system already means more to them than you realize. 

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