10 October is World Mental Health Day
Psychological support is a vital part of MS care but it’s difficult to access in many countries around the world. This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day is ‘Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality’. We could not agree more. The recent clinical management findings of the Atlas of MS makes the scale of the problem clear, showing that therapies to treat mood symptoms such as depression are only available in 69% of countries worldwide.
Mental health and mood-related symptoms of MS are often overlooked despite affecting quality of life. We have collected resources from our members across the globe to support your mental health journey with MS. Read on for articles, booklets and videos on understanding and managing mental health with MS.
Mood changes and emotions in MS
Some of the most common but hidden symptoms of MS are changes to cognition and people’s emotions and self-esteem. Over the course of their MS, people are likely to experience different emotions and mood changes. Some of these are reactions to the stresses and challenges created by diagnosis, while others seem to be symptoms of MS itself. People with MS may also experience emotional lows or mourning the loss of certain elements of their life from before a diagnosis. For many, the emotional and cognitive effects of MS represent its greatest challenges. The MSIF movement have produced a lots of quality information resources to educate people about mood changes and cognition in MS. Hear about a loved one’s perspective with the National MS Society (NMSS), get the headlines about MS and depression with MS Australia’s quick factsheet, or dig in to expressing your feelings and understanding your emotions with an article from Ligue Française contre la Sclérose En Plaques. Discover this and learn much more about MS and your emotions in the selection of resources below:
- National MS Society USA – MS and your emotions (English)
- National MS Society USA – Ask an MS expert: Mood and cognition (English)
- National MS Society USA – Mood changes in MS (English)
- National MS Society USA – From a loved one’s perspective: Depression (English)
- Schweizerische Multiple Sklerose Gesellschaft – Depression (German, French, Italian)
- Schweizerische Multiple Sklerose Gesellschaft – Psychological effects (German, French, Italian)
- Scleroseforeningen – Emotional reactions & MS (Danish)
- MS Australia – MS & depression: Information sheet (English)
- Österreichische Multiple Sklerose Gesellschaft – MS and Psyche (German)
- Ligue Française contre la Sclérose en Plaques – Emotional troubles & mood disorders (French)
Heightened anxiety during COVID-19
MS can increase levels of stress and anxiety, as can a pandemic. MS organisations have recognised the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of the MS community. In response, organisations have produced resources to help people with MS understand and manage additional stress caused by the pandemic. MS Ireland talks about how health anxiety has increased worldwide for people with MS since the pandemic. The MS Society of New Zealand recommends focusing on the things you can control. Polskie Towarzystwo Stwardnienia Rozsianego (Polish MS Society – PTSR) focuses on tackling loneliness and coping strategies. The National MS Society advises on engaging in wellness activities to focus inward. Explore all this and much more advice on tackling the impact of COVID-19 on your mental health:
- Polskie Towarzystwo Stwardnienia Rozsianego – How to deal with coronavirus and stress (Polish)
- MS Ireland – Coping with COVID-19 related anxiety in MS (English)
- National MS Society USA – Coping with Uncertainty of COVID-19 (English)
- MS Society of New Zealand – Seven tips to get you through lockdown with MS (English)
Having MS can also affect self-esteem. There may be times when it’s difficult to do everything a person is used to doing, or they may have to do things differently. Focusing too much on the negative aspects can feel overwhelming. Watch this one-minute infographic for confidence boosters and tips for managing low self-esteem. The video is available in 12 languages. Watch the video in all 12 languages on the MS Resource Hub here.
Thanks to the UK MS Society for providing the text for this infographic.
Managing emotional changes in MS
Although difficult, emotional changes in MS are a manageable symptom. They can be tackled in a variety of ways from physical activity, to self-management strategies, counselling or medications.
Watch this clip from the latest International Progressive MS Alliance webcast to discover more about managing depression through tailored medication or cognitive behavioural therapy.
Select the setting toggle at the bottom right to switch to subtitles in English, Arabic, Spanish and Italian.
Improving your mood and managing stress
From bite-sized tips from Esclerosis Múltiple España (EME), to MS Ireland’s webinar on sitting down with a wellness coach and mindfulness teacher for an in-depth look into coping strategies, in – there are many vital tools for improving your mood and managing stress on the MS Resource Hub. Explore these resources to find out more about exercise, planning and much more:
- Esclerosis Múltiple España – 12 Tips to improve your mood (Spanish)
- MS Ireland – Managing stress webinar (English)
- National MS Society USA – Taming stress in MS (English)
Relaxation & mindfulness
Relaxation and mindfulness are useful tools for managing emotional changes. Frequent practice of relaxation techniques has been proven to improve mood and help manage other MS symptoms such as fatigue. When stress, anxiety and negative thoughts crowd your headspace, mindfulness can also be a useful tool to focus the mind. Focus on your breath with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India, calm your mind with PTSR and transport yourself to beautiful places with EME’s visualisation exercises. Now is the time to slow down, take a breath and focus inward with these mindfulness videos from our members across the globe:
- MS Society UK – Breathing and relaxation yoga exercises for MS (English)
- Multiple Sclerosis Society of India – Yoga meditation for self-care (English, Spanish)
- Associazione Italiana Sclerosi Multipla – Mindfulness video series (Italian)
- Esclerosis Múltiple España – Relaxation session for people with MS (Spanish)
- Polskie Towarzystwo Stwardnienia Rozsianego – Mindfulness (Polish, English)