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The Emotional Strain of MS and How to Cope

By Daryl H. Bryant (654 words)
Posted in Living with MS on October 14, 2014

There are (1) comments permalink

The Emotional Strain of MS and How to Cope

With a diagnosis like Multiple Sclerosis, it can be hard to focus on your emotional well-being. However, along with the physical burdens and limitations of the disease, MS can create a lot of emotional and psychological stress as well.

Recognizing these negative emotions and understanding where they come from can help you and your loved ones keep a positive and confident attitude throughout the physical and emotional strain of MS. 

Stress of Diagnosis

Because MS is a chronic, debilitative disease, it can cause a lot of anxiety. Worrying about symptom outbreaks and managing medication can trigger unnecessary stress and panic, but the disease itself also changes the way the brain processes this anxiety.

As MS progresses through the brain and the central nervous system, the nerve damage can spread to the frontal lobe responsible for mood and emotion. This can cause a wide range of emotional fluctuations, including anger, grief, fear, and euphoria. Your ability to cope or even express these emotions appropriately can be greatly hindered as well. 

Side Effects of Medication

Some of the medications prescribed to regulate symptom outbreaks or stall the progression of MS come with emotional side effects, including anger and depression. The steroids used to treat and stall relapses commonly cause hyperactivity in patients at first treatment only to lead to depression afterwards.

In addition, many of the prescriptions used to counteract fatigue can exacerbate existing anxiety disorders and depressive episodes.  Most patients will never experience these side effects, but if you have existing emotional disorders or start to experience changes in your mood, bring it to your doctor’s attention immediately.

Secondary Stressors

There will be many other experiences going on in your life that can aggravate the existing stress of your diagnosis. The loss of your independence and unpredictable symptom outbreaks can make all of your daily routines a little more stressful. Additionally, if you have medical bills, young children, and social obligations, you may start to feel in over your head. 

Stress like this can cause outbreaks and make your symptoms worse, so recognize that these secondary stressors are trivial when it comes to your comfort and well-being.

Stress on Relationships

All of your relationships, romantic or platonic, will experience the changes and the stress of your diagnosis. The unpredictability of your symptoms will upset the traditional roles of your relationships, disrupt emotional connections, and interrupt your social plans. You may start to blame yourself and resent your symptoms, but this will only create more emotional strain on you.

Instead, communicate with your  friends and family and help them adjust to your symptoms, whether they are changes in your sexual libido, loss of physical energy, or limited mobility. It is important to find new activities that you can all engage in that won’t create unwanted stress on your physical and emotional well-being.

How to Cope

As stated above, communication is key when it comes to coping with the emotional strain of MS. Being honest with how you feel and talking about your symptoms will not only help those around you understand what the diagnosis is like but will also help you get a better grasp on what is happening to your body.

If you are still able to do so, physical movement will also work wonders in reducing your physical and emotional stress, and inviting friends and family along to physical therapy sessions will be beneficial for both you and them. 

If you find that you are feeling severely depressed, talk with your doctor. They can help you find therapists and counseling groups that can help you work through the emotional strain of MS.

Just because MS is a chronic disease does not mean you need to consistently feel stressed and uncomfortable. Recognize the emotional strain of MS and practice positivity as much as you can. When you feel like your emotions are overwhelming you, bring it to the attention of your doctors, counselors, and loved ones so that they can help you maintain a healthy level of optimism during your diagnosis.


Comments (1)

Jose posted on: October 15, 2014

Well for me was so hard not to know I have MS, but to get a good Neurologist, I struggled for three years having every test for MS, from MRI´s (six), Spinal Tap, Evoked Potentials, CT scan, you name it and four Drs. 1 Neurosurgeon who told me first I have MS ans three Neurologist, the first a complete clueless person about MS, the 2º one that supposed to be the one that knows a lot about MS butdo many wrong judgments diagnosis and final with the last Neuro and a NMOIgG test got the Diagnosis of MS, I almost give up, because what I was looking for, was a medical treatment to slow down the progression of MS. Well I been for almost 4 years on Copaxone and it is working pretty good, no side effects also, thanks God.

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