Symptom Series: Emotional changes

Learn about emotional wellness with MS
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Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects everyone differently. No two people have the exact same symptoms with the disease. Since MS affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, you may have a wide range of symptoms. Some are visible and can be seen by others. Others are invisible and are only seen or felt by the person with MS.

Through our Symptom Series, we’ll provide some information and tips about different symptoms to discuss with your healthcare team. Remember, your healthcare team should be your primary source for information or any questions.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) may have both a physical and an emotional impact. People living with MS may experience mood swings, irritability, fear, or anxiety. It’s okay (and not unexpected) to feel any of these changes temporarily. However, these emotions can affect relationships with other people, personal motivation, diet, and exercise, so try to be aware of any negative emotions.

While many of these emotions may be due to adapting to a new way of living with MS, some may also be caused by damage to nerve fibers within certain areas of the brain. It’s important to frequently update your healthcare team about how you feel. Keeping your healthcare team aware of your emotions may help them determine the cause and better guide you on your path.

Below are some tips to discuss with your healthcare team that may help you manage emotional changes.

Try to stay positive

This may be easier said than done, but try to see things on the bright side. Start reminding yourself of anything positive in your life—favorite memories, movies, or even foods. Naturally, there will be gloomy days—and that's okay. But if you are having a hard time, be sure to let your healthcare team know. Read how an Above MS expert contributor celebrates life with MS.

Open up to your support team

Your loved ones may not know how you’re feeling, but they will if you tell them. Don’t be afraid to voice your emotions and ask for help if needed. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to a loved one, try expressing yourself in online forums or in MS support groups.

Consider counseling

If there’s a constant struggle to keep emotions in check, counseling can be a great way to navigate through how you feel. A counselor may be able to help decipher why these emotions occur and how to manage them.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is when you’re aware of your moment-to-moment thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and environment. It’s an important part of emotional wellness. Start practicing mindfulness by checking in with yourself frequently. Think about how you’re feeling. This may mean you take time to meditate to clear your mind, or perhaps repeat a positive mantra to yourself. Also consider taking time to simply focus on your breathing. Feel free to explore several options and find what works best for you to relax your mind. However you and your healthcare team determine best, take time every day to find peace.

Keep a mood journal

Try tracking your emotions in a journal or digital device. This may help you recognize any patterns and help you initiate conversations with your healthcare team about your emotional wellness.

Multiple sclerosis may be a lot to handle, but there are ways to adapt positively and efficiently. Your healthcare team is a great resource to give you additional tools to manage emotional wellness.

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