There are several emotional responses that a patient living with MS encounters. Depression, anxiety and stress occur because of the overwhelming changes that are placed on the patient as well as the uncertainty of the illness. Depression in MS has two forms:
- Reactive Depression
- Is the result of reactions to negative circumstances and experiences that occur when living with MS.
- Endogenous Depression
- Is the result of changes in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain as well as the emotional part of the brain called the Limbic System.
Depression is highly treatable through the use of counseling and medication. Participating in “talk therapy” is an important aspect in dealing with depression. Having an outside party to discuss thoughts, fears and concerns helps to open up communication.
Anxiety is common amongst those living with MS because of the mere fact that MS is now a part of their life. Changes in physical health coupled with changing symptoms triggers emotions such as anxiety. Anxiety can be treated with medication as well as speaking with a counselor and/or participating in a support group where a basic understanding and level of comfort exists.
While stress is a part of everyday life, the stress that is triggered by MS presents itself as anxiety, poor concentration, and poor problem solving. Stress can also trigger physical symptoms such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headaches, and fatigue, to name a few.
Identifying the triggers of stress and finding ways to minimize and alleviate them are important. Relaxation techniques have been found to be helpful as well as attending stress counseling sessions, whether individually or in a group setting, may also be beneficial.
The physical challenges of MS can lead to depression, stress and anxiety, however, these issues can be dealt with through patience, perseverance and support from others.