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Emotions, Mood Swings and MS

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In its April 2012 conference call, the MS/Cancer support group held a heartfelt discussion about emotions and mood changes associated with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

The San Antonio, Texas office of the Lonestar Chapter of the National MS Society supplied each member with a booklet, Multiple Sclerosis & Your Emotions: Staying Well by Rosalind C. Kalb, PhD., and a video, Mood Changes and MS.

The book and video address the difficulties people with multiple sclerosis may have with emotions and mood changes.

Initial reactions to a MS diagnosis may include shock, fear and anger. Some may feel relief to finally receive a diagnosis. Others may be in denial.

Longer-term reactions may include grief, anxiety, anger and guilt. Whatever emotional reactions a person experiences, it is important to seek help and support. Talking about these feelings in a supportive setting can bring relief and productive problem solving.

The video, Mood Changes and MS, said that in addition to its physical symptoms, MS might cause the following:

  • ·       Depression
  • ·       Grieving
  • ·       Stress
  • ·       Generalized distress and anxiety
  • ·       Mood swings
  • ·       Uncontrollable laughing and/or crying 

 Medications to treat MS can affect a person's moods. Corticosteroids that are prescribed to manage MS exacerbations may cause significant mood swings. The beta interferon medications may cause depression.

 In her book, Kalb suggested some coping strategies.

  • ·       Be an active partner in your own health care.
  • ·       Appraise your MS with realism and flexibility.
  • ·       Maintain strong bonds with family and friends.
  • ·       Keep a sense of purpose by setting goals.
  • ·       Talk about your concerns and feelings.
  • ·       Have some fun.

Kalb also reminds MS patients that family members have feelings too. Family members should acknowledge that MS affects them and to respect each other's coping styles and strategies.

One of the main purposes of the MS/Cancer support group, co-sponsored by the National MS Society and the American Cancer Society, is to provide an avenue for dually diagnosed patients to discuss their situations.

Carol Smith

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