Mental Health and Multiple Sclerosis
Receiving a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis is life-altering for most people and can bring significant impacts, including to one's mental health.
However, the diagnosis itself is only one aspect to contend with. Living with MS can be very challenging due to the condition’s impacts and symptoms.
Fluctuating symptoms can be frustrating and may impact a person’s mood - people around you may not know what to say or how to comfort you, which can lead to feeling isolated. Not only might a person with MS feel isolated, but they might even become physically isolated due to the physical impacts of the condition. This can create a vicious cycle of mental health impacts.
For example, relapses or a sense of uncertainty around the future, which may or may not be related to the severity of one's condition, may contribute to feelings of anxiety. Information overload can occur due to the overwhelming amount of, sometimes conflicting, information available on the internet. As well as this, it can also be confusing to know where to get reliable support and information from trusted sources.
It is therefore understandable that all of these general factors, and more which are not covered here, can contribute to the development of conditions such as depression and anxiety for some people who live with MS.
Help is available
For anyone struggling with their mental health and living with an autoimmune condition such as MS, it is important to know that you are NOT alone. Support is out there.
MS Research is entirely sympathetic to anyone who is struggling with mental health issues, however as a charity focused on research for Multiple Sclerosis, we would advise seeking specific support from the NHS, your local doctor, and from other specialist organisations such as Samaritans and SANE, among others. If you are living with MS and you have any concerns about your mental health, we would strongly encourage you to discuss them with your MS nurse and/ or clinical team.
MS Research is also able to provide a limited amount of specialist support for specific MS symptoms such as for fatigue in our FACETS course. This Cognitive Behavioural Therapy –based group course is available for people who have a diagnosis of MS fatigue. Many people who have completed the course have noted the opportunity to talk to others and share their experiences, as being a point of comfort in addition to finding practical pathways to managing fatigue and making improvements to their quality of life.
As well as this, there are support forums and groups available through other Multiple Sclerosis charities, such as MS Society and MS Trust. We know that talking to someone and sharing experiences can be hugely beneficial.
Are you an MS Researcher?
MS Research is focused on seeking new research to practically improve the lives of people dealing with MS. We are therefore always interested to hear from researchers whose projects aim to help, including with the crossover of MS and mental health.