Up till today, only a handful of studies examined the relationship between stress and multiple sclerosis, but according to MS patients, stress worsens their symptoms. This is highly probable, since stress interacts directly with one’s immune system, and in the case of an MS sufferer, it’s a good enough ground for assuming that relapses or worsening in symptoms are related to stress.
From a neurological point of view only, stress causes certain hormones to be released in the brain, hormones that slow down the activity of sections in the brain that are responsible for decision making and reasoning. However, research has not been able to prove a link between the two.
From another point of view, stress occurs because of the condition itself, as having MS is really stressful for MS sufferers. Why? Because of:
- The appearance of new symptoms
- MS’s unpredictable nature
- Health insurance concerns
- The need of relying on others
- And more…
At the same time, each and every person has their own coping mechanisms, and this involves coping with stress. A way that seemed to help MS sufferers cope with stress includes:
- Having social support. This is benefit when the symptoms worsen or the MS sufferer needs help to go to his or her doctor’s office or fulfill responsibilities, or even making dinner. It’s very useful to cultivate a network of friends and family, people who are willing to help, and people one can depend on. At the same time, it’s important to stress to those people the importance in one’s life.
- Relaxing. Needless to say, relaxation has proven up till this point, one of the best ways of combating stress. Stress causes one’s body to release certain stress relating hormones. Relaxting helps to reverse the process. Yoga, meditation, or stretching are highly recommended, alongside any other activities that relax the MS sufferer ( like listening to soft music, lighting scented candles, taking a long bath, and such).
- Planning. This is extremely important. Even if nobody wants to think about what they’ll do once their symptoms worsen, having a plan makes it all easier. It’s better to know who will be there to take the MS sufferer to the doctor’s office, what one will need to change in his or her life if the symptoms worsen, who will watch one’s kids, what will happen to work, and such.
There are lots of other things one can learn to do to better cope with stress, and for an MS sufferer, asking for help should never be seen as something that won’t ever be done. Also, MS sufferers should always keep in touch with the latest advances in therapy and treatment, and also learn as much as they can about their condition and ways through other MS sufferers managed to keep their quality of life high. Information is power, and this is especially true when it comes to multiple sclerosis.