Taking your relapsing MS medication

Tips for dealing with the emotional challenges of treatment
Taking Your Relapsing MS Medication

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In any situation, there are things we can control and things we can’t. Multiple sclerosis (MS) can be unpredictable at times. One positive thing I’ve learned is finding the things that we can control. This helps us feel less out of control and more empowered. When I work with people living with MS, we often discuss if they are taking an FDA-approved medication.

Making medication choices

Many of us have had to start a new relapsing MS treatment. Your doctor may have talked to you about a few options. Perhaps he or she gave you several booklets or brochures to read. Whatever the case may be, making treatment decisions can be emotionally difficult. I find that talking to someone I trust is a good way to cope. It allows me to share any anxiety or stress I'm feeling.

I use these questions when working with clients who are making treatment decisions:

  • What does your neurologist think is the best medication for your MS?
  • Will you be compliant with injections, pills, or an infusion?
  • What are the pros and cons of the options that you have?

Dealing with medication fatigue

For some people, medication can feel like an unwanted reminder of their MS. I often hear people say "I am so tired of taking medications." This is normal and I also feel that way sometimes. After all, wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to take medication? Or if we didn’t have MS, for that matter? It’s important to make sure that those emotions are not getting in the way of medication compliance.

Think about taking relapsing MS medication as a way to slow down the progression of your physical disability. It can be a positive reminder that you are doing what you can to help take control of your MS. Focusing on the positive aspect of why you’re taking medication can often help you feel better about taking it.

Addressing barriers

For some people, it’s easy to remember to take their medications. For others, it can be more difficult. With MS, you may experience cognitive issues such as short-term memory loss. Physical issues such as fatigue can make it hard to remember to take your medications as prescribed. I often suggest thinking about the barriers that are getting in the way of taking your treatment. Then I explore if there are ways to work around that barrier.

For example, let’s say you’re having trouble remembering to take your injection at night because you're tired from work. Looking at the barrier of being tired, I recommend a reminder system. This can be as simple as setting a recurring alarm on your phone.

Make sure you always discuss any questions you have or any symptoms you may be experiencing with your doctor.

Recognizing you are not alone

Many people I've spoken to find that connecting with others who understand how they feel helps them cope with MS.

Here are a few ways you can feel connected to others who may understand:

  • Attend a local MS support group or explore a support group online
  • Attend local patient education programs
  • See if the pharmaceutical company that makes your relapsing MS medication offers a peer support program
  • Attend MS Walks and other MS fundraising events
  • Stay connected with local MS organizations

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