Multiple Sclerosis Ms Coping Challenges

Whether you have been living with multiple sclerosis (MS) for years or have been newly diagnosed with MS, you probably experience periods where you feel overwhelmed at the thought of coping with this chronic disease and the challenges it brings. However, multiple sclerosis doesn’t have to rule your life. In fact, many people with multiple sclerosis continue to enjoy happy and productive lives for many years.

Here are some suggestions for coping with the stresses and challenges of multiple sclerosis.

Challenges of Multiple Sclerosis

People with multiple sclerosis often experience a gamut of emotions, from feeling depressed at the lack of control they have over their bodies to feeling elated when their multiple sclerosis symptoms disappear for a few months. People also become fearful at the thought of being unable to participate in normal activities.

In addition to dealing with emotions, people with multiple sclerosis also must cope with the following:

  • depression
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • hearing problems
  • loss of balance and coordination
  • loss of strength
  • muscle weakness
  • vision problems.

Despite these multiple sclerosis symptoms, there are ways for you to make your life as close to normal as possible.

Tips for Coping with Multiple Sclerosis

In order to deal with the symptoms and effects of your multiple sclerosis, try the following:

  • Continue Enjoying Your Hobbies: It is important for you to continue to enjoy the things you enjoyed before you were diagnosed with your disease. While your symptoms might prevent you from enjoying your favorite activities as often as you would like, you can find other ways to be involved. For example, if you always enjoyed dancing, you can go to the ballet or to a ballroom dancing competition when you experience an MS attack. Or, if you enjoyed competing in running competitions but now become overheated in races, consider enrolling in swimming events. Not only will swimming feed your need to compete, but it will also keep you cool and provide you with valuable exercise!
  • Join a Support Group: Many people living with multiple sclerosis find it beneficial to join a support group. Support groups can connect you with others who are experiencing the same things as you. Not only will you be able to openly discuss your feelings and concerns, but you’ll also meet new friends and learn new coping strategies. To find a support group in your area, talk to your doctor or look online.
  • Maintain Your Normal Activities: While there may be times when your MS symptoms prevent you from enjoying your normal activities, you should try to participate in your normal chores, work activities, etc., as much as possible. Not only will staying active keep you in a more positive frame of mind, but it will also keep you moving, which could reduce some of your physical symptoms. If your MS prevents you from driving to work, consider carpooling with friends or taking public transportation. You could also catch a ride with friends or family members to run errands or do your weekly shopping.
  • Stay in Touch: Staying connected with friends and family is important to everyone, but it can be especially important to those suffering from multiple sclerosis. Your friends and family can be your support group, offering you advice, care and comfort. In addition, your loved ones can simply listen as you discuss you cares and concerns about your disease. Staying connected to people will also help you see outside of your life and your disease, which can lift your spirits. Make the time to call your family and friends. You should also think of scheduling dinners with those close to you.
  • Talk to a Professional: Depression, anger and frustration can get to even the most positive-minded MS patient. Talking to a professional who is equipped to deal with such emotions might be beneficial. Professionals will be able to put things in perspective and also teach you coping skills and relaxation strategies.
  • Talk to Your Doctor: When living with MS, it is important to maintain an open dialogue with your doctor. Let him know of any symptoms you are experiencing, as he may be able to offer you a prescription to ease your discomfort. He might also be able to suggest ways for overcoming physical hurdles.

Resources

Mayo Clinic Staff (2006). Multiple sclerosis: Coping skills. Retrieved June 20, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/multiple-sclerosis/DS00188/DSECTION=9.