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Your Emotional Health and Your MS

By Daryl H. Bryant (663 words)
Posted in Living with MS on April 28, 2015

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Your Emotional Health and Your MS

Your emotional well-being greatly influences your physical well-being, and this is especially true for those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. MS takes a toll on your body, often limiting your physical movement and causing fatigue and pain.

All of these physical symptoms can have a negative effect on your mood which, in turn, can make your symptoms even worse. Understanding this relationship between your emotional health and your physical health will help you manage your symptoms and get one step closer to living symptom free.

Signs of depression

Depression and chronic physical illness often go hand-in-hand. Chronic pain, the inability to physically do certain things, and the strict medicine regimen are all parts of MS that can really take a toll on your mood. Studies show that those with MS and other chronic physical illnesses are less likely to be tested for depression.

This means that the depressed moods, loss of appetite, and inability to sleep that you may be experiencing are often mistakenly seen as symptoms of the physical disease rather than the emotional ailments they could be. If you recognize some of these emotional symptoms in yourself, you can treat them directly (along with your physical symptoms) in order to overcome the most debilitating parts of your diagnosis.

Treating emotional symptoms of MS

Treating your emotional and physical symptoms involve a complete wellness program that focuses on your physical symptoms, your emotional state, your anxiety levels, and your diet, among other things. A study completed by the National MS Society found that patients with MS who participated in a wellness program with these elements in mind experienced a significant reduction in both their depressed mood and their anxiety.

The 10-week program included 90-minute therapy sessions where patients focused on improving their quality of life in every aspect, starting by listing their anxieties, fears, and grief and discussing the various social, intellectual, and emotional outlets available to them to help them improve their mood. Finding ways to combat their depression was key, and by openly discussing frustrations and pain, they were able to pinpoint exactly what caused their shift in mood and focus on how to improve it.

Recognizing emotional symptoms

While you may not participate in a structured emotional wellness program like the one the National MS Society ran, therapy sessions might help you improve your mood and alleviate your symptoms. Sessions that focus directly on how your MS is affecting you emotionally can help you stay aware of your mood and recognize depressive markers.

For example, the burning pins and needles you feel in your limbs is a symptom of MS, but if you’re brooding on the pain and constantly thinking about it throughout your day, that is a sign of depression. Thinking about the pain is only making it worse, but not thinking about it may be impossible.

This is where wellness therapy is exceptionally helpful. Brooding on pain or other discomforts caused by MS is very damaging to your mental health, and wellness therapy can help you develop tricks to break negative, repetitive thinking with healthy distractions and meditative tactics. These wellness tricks, combined with your prescribed medication, can greatly decrease the physical pain you experience with MS.

How are you coping with your emotions?

Staying emotionally healthy with MS not only means recognizing changes in your moods but also recognizing yourself as a strong person worthy of happiness. MS does not define who you are. You define how MS treats you.

By taking control of your diagnosis and how you emotionally react to your physical symptoms will greatly influence how Multiple Sclerosis impacts your daily life.

When you realize that unhealthy emotions could be triggering your symptom outbreaks, you can be empowered to change those emotions and improve your physical well-being. Thinking positively and wellness therapy can help you strengthen your sense of self-worth and develop tactics to fight off depressing thoughts, and when combined with your prescribed physical and dietary regimen, you can notice significant improvements in your both your physical and emotional health.

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