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. The 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. The theme of World Mental Health Day 2023 is ‘Mental health is a universal human right’. Everyone has a right to mental health care, and people with MS are no exception.
Mental health and mood-related symptoms of MS are often overlooked despite affecting quality of life. The global MSIF movement have created fantastic resources to support people with MS through emotional changes and mental health challenges. We have collected resources, in a variety of languages, from our members 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. 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 lot of quality information resources to educate people about mood changes in MS. Hear from a loved one’s perspective with the National MS Society USA, dive into the psychological aspects of MS with an expert from the Sociedade Portuguesa de Esclerose Múltipla, get the headlines on the psychological impact of MS with factsheets from the Schweizerische Multiple Sklerose Gesellschaft, or dig deep into expressing your feelings and understanding your emotions with the Ligue Française contre la Sclérose En Plaques. Discover these resources and learn much more about MS and your emotions with the selection of resources below:
National MS Society USA – MS and your emotions (English, French)
National MS Society USA – Mood changes in MS booklet (English, Polish, French)
National MS Society USA – Mood changes in MS video (English, Spanish)
National MS Society USA – Ask an MS expert: Mood and cognition (English)
National MS Society USA – From a loved one’s perspective: Depression (English)
MS Society UK – Anger, laughter and tears: understanding emotional outbursts in MS (English)
MS Canada – Mental health and MS webinar (English)
MS Canada – Stress and MS factsheet (English, French)
Ligue Française contre la Sclérose en Plaques – Emotional troubles & mood disorders (French)
Fondation pour l’Aide à la Recherche sur la Sclérose En Plaques – Stress and MS (French)
Schweizerische Multiple Sklerose Gesellschaft – Depression (German, French, Italian)
Schweizerische Multiple Sklerose Gesellschaft – Psychological effects (German, French, Italian)
Österreichische Multiple Sklerose Gesellschaft – MS and Psyche (German)
Polskie Towarzystwo Stwardnienia Rozsianego – Psychological difficulties in MS (Polish)
Polskie Towarzystwo Stwardnienia Rozsianego – Ask about MS: Questions about MS and Mental Health (Polish)
Associazione Italiana Sclerosi Multipla – Psychological aspects of MS (Italian)
Scleroseforeningen: Emotional reactions & MS (Danish, Icelandic)
Scleroseforeningen: Personality, behaviours and MS (Danish, Icelandic)
Sociedade Portuguesa de Esclerose Múltipla – Psychology consultation four-part series (Portuguese)
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
There are so many vital tools for improving your mood and managing stress from the global MSIF movement. From bite-sized tips from Esclerosis Múltiple España (EME) and Polskie Towarzystwo Stwardnienia Rozsianego (PTSR), to an in-depth look at coping strategies with a wellness coach and mindfulness teacher with the MS Society Ireland. Explore these resources to find out more about planning, getting support, resilience and more:
- Esclerosis Múltiple España – 12 Tips to improve your mood (Spanish)
- MS Ireland – Managing stress webinar (English)
National MS Society USA – Ask an MS Expert: Managing depression and anxiety (English)
National MS Society USA – Ask an MS Expert: Addressing the challenges of MS through resilience (English)
- National MS Society USA – Taming stress in MS (English, Polish)
- Polskie Towarzystwo Stwardnienia Rozsianego – Mental health and MS posters (Polish)
- Fondation pour l’Aide à la Recherche sur la Sclérose En Plaques – Psychological Care (French)
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, learn the theory of yoga and meditation with Esclerosis Múltiple Argentina 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)
- Multiple Sclerosis Society of India – Yogic breathing for MS (English)
- 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)
- Esclerosis Múltiple Argentina – MS: Yoga and Meditation (Spanish, English)
Find support near you
Sometimes MS can be tough to deal with, but you don’t have to face it on your own. There are many MS organisations around the world, working hard to provide to vital support for people affected by MS and helping to manage the mental and emotional impact of life with MS. Find your nearest MS organisation using this tool.
The MS Resource Hub
For more information and resources about mental health and emotional changes for people affected by MS, you can explore the MS Resource Hub here.
If you are an MS organisation and are interested in translating, adapting or repurposing any of these resources please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.