Neurologist Dr. Klineova and three women living with MS discuss the importance of finding support for emotional wellness and cognitive issues.
Mental & Emotional Wellness
GETTING EMOTIONAL & COGNITIVE SUPPORT
Dr. Wanda Castro: Welcome to She Talks MS. My name is Wanda Castro. I work with Biogen. And today we will be talking about mental and emotional wellness. Dr. Klineova, why are these topics of interest, mental health and emotional health?
Dr. Sylvia Klineova (Neurology, Mount Sinai Health System): Well, it is important, because we don’t only strive for physical health. Mental and emotional health allow our patients to live to their fullest potential.
Wanda: Chelsey, have you talked to your healthcare provider?
Chelsey B.: I talked to my first neurologist about it, and he kind of just shrugged it off. I was getting very nervous about leaving the house. I would double-check the door. It was like, very something small, and I said something to him. And he’s like, well, has your house ever been robbed? And I was like, no. He was like, you’re fine. I was like, that’s not the answer we were looking for here! So I actually found this great neurologist, and we’ve had great conversations about it. She just wanted to talk for hours about everything I was feeling, and she actually got me started on a treatment plan. So, it was nice to like, have that comfort and talk to somebody who understood and wanted to fix things.
Wanda: That’s good, that’s good.
Tina Z.: The first neurologist who I went to see, I said to her, I have anxiety. And for me, it really was situational. Because as my disease started to progress, the anxiety of getting out of the house, and going places, and what if I, you know, get too tired to walk, I was using a rollator at that point. And she said, well, what is it you want me to do? And I said, well, is there something I can take? I can’t live like this. And she said absolutely not, because anything for anxiety, medication has side effects. I said, well, living with multiple sclerosis has side effects, being anxious all the time has side effects. So, I decided to break up with her.
I think what happens a lot with mental wellness or mental health, people are almost shamed for taking medication. And the way I see all of this is, it’s a tool. Medication is a tool for me. Meditation is a tool. You know, having a social life is a tool. It’s just another tool in the arsenal, and that’s all it is. We don’t need to demonize it. We don’t need to worship it either. It just is.
Wanda: Do any of you experience any cognitive issues?
Pam S.: I knew shortly into my diagnosis that I was having some stuff going on. So of course, now we know that it does cause cognition problems, and you know, it started affecting me on my job. And then my manager brought it up to me that yeah, Pam, this is pretty bad. When I realized how bad the cognition problems were that I was having, it was like a punch to—I can’t say my stomach, it was like a punch to my life. If you can’t perform, in today’s world, you’re out. There goes my income, there goes my livelihood, there goes everything that I had worked so hard for. And by the way, I can’t even explain it. Even being able to understand what was happening was hard. And so I went through cognitive rehab. I was diligent. I didn’t miss anything. I still use some of the tactics that I was shown. But that was probably one of the most difficult times that I’ve had while trying to learn to live with MS. That was really, really hard.
Wanda: So Dr. Klineova, what is cognitive rehab?
Dr. Klineova: Cognitive rehab—there are different techniques and strategies, and trainings. So for cognitive support, we try to identify first where the cognition problem is, and then we tailor support to that. So cognitive strategies can be very simple, starting by downloading math games or word games. They can be as simple as that, or encouraging people to read and build or keep their word supply, if they have, let’s say, word-finding difficulties. So there’s different strategies for different cognitive problems.
Learn more about cognitive changes at National MS Society: NMSS.org
Wanda: Can you provide a piece of advice for those that are watching us?
Dr. Klineova: Women with MS should realize that cognitive and emotional health is as important as their physical health, and they should put the same emphasis on it. And if they do see early changes in their cognition or if they see early changes in their emotions, they should speak up with their healthcare providers because the sooner we address the issue, the higher chance that we’re going to get it under successful control.
Wanda: So ladies, thank you so much.
All: Thank you.
Everyone’s experience with multiple sclerosis (MS) is different. Your healthcare provider should always be your primary source of information. The people in this video are paid spokespeople for Biogen.