How The Program Can Help
Good news: although its simply not possible to avoid stressful life events, there are ways that you can learn to deal with stress so that you can prevent MS relapses. Scientists have discovered that stress management techniques can significantly reduce lesions and MS relapses. MS symptoms can also be stressful in themselves and symptoms can naturally feel worse if you are feeling stressed and anxious, so stress management will also help you day-to-day.
Some of the ways in which you can manage stress effectively include:
The OMS program combines all of these factors with the added support of a community.
1. Gold SM, Mohr DC, Huitinga I, et al. The role of stress-response systems for the pathogenesis and progression of MS. Trends Immunol 2005
2. Lalive PH, Burkhard PR, Chofflon M. TNF-alpha and psychologically stressful events in healthy subjects: potential relevance for multiple sclerosis relapse. Behav Neurosci 2002 116:1093-1097
3. Ackerman KD, Stover A, Heyman R, et al. Relationship of cardiovascular reactivity, stressful life events, and multiple sclerosis disease activity. Brain Behav Immun 2003 17:141-151
4. Mohr DC, Goodkin DE, Bacchetti P, et al. Psychological stress and the subsequent appearance of new brain MRI lesions in MS. Neurology 2000 55:55-61
5. Mohr DC, Goodkin DE, Nelson S, et al. Moderating effects of coping on the relationship between stress and the development of new brain lesions in multiple sclerosis. Psychosom Med 2002 64:803-809
Why Do People Get Ms
It’s not clear what causes the immune system to attack the myelin sheath.
It seems likely that it’s partly caused by genes you inherit from your parents and partly by outside factors that may trigger the condition.
Some of the factors that have been suggested as possible causes of MS include:
- your genes MS isn’t directly inherited, but people who are related to someone with the condition are more likely to develop it the chance of a sibling or child of someone with MS also developing it is estimated to be around 2 to 3%
- lack of sunlight and vitamin D MS is more common in countries far from the equator, which could mean that a lack of sunlight and low vitamin D levels may play a role in the condition, although it’s not clear whether vitamin D supplements can help prevent MS
- smoking people who smoke are about twice as likely to develop MS compared with those who don’t smoke
- teenage obesity people who were obese during their teenage years have an increased risk of developing MS
- viral infections it’s been suggested that infections, particularly those caused by the Epstein-Barr virus , might trigger the immune system, leading to MS in some people
- being female women are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop MS than men the reason for this is unclear
Further research is needed to understand more about why MS occurs and whether anything can be done to prevent it.
Page last reviewed: 20 December 2018 Next review due: 20 December 2021
What Is An Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmune diseases develop when a persons immune system goes after its own tissues and organs. Autoimmune disease can affect all parts of the body. For example:
- Type 1 diabetes. This is the type that usually affects kids and develops when abnormal antibodies attack certain cells in the pancreas, leaving it unable to produce enough insulin, so the body cant regulate blood sugar properly
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Multiple joints and other organs become inflamed the cause is unknown, but the presence of autoantibodies and other abnormal immune function suggest it is an autoimmune disorder.
- Pernicious anemia. In this condition, anemia develops when the immune system produces antibodies that prevent absorption of vitamin B12 from food.
And these are just a few. Autoimmune conditions are especially scary because the immune system goes rogue for no apparent reason.
Read Also: How To Not Stress About Acne
The Stress Of Living With Ms
Living with MS means that you may have to face health limitations, such as problems with mobility, bladder issues, and impaired vision, which can cause frustration and stress. But there are many other concerns those with MS face that factor into the stress of living with this disease as well:
- The unpredictable nature of MS
- Adapting to new symptoms
- Concerns about your job
Stress Doesn’t Cause Multiple Sclerosis Study Suggests
May 31, 2011 / 12:52 PM / CBS News
Does psychological stress cause multiple sclerosis?
Stress has long been blamed for causing flare-ups of MS in patients already diagnosed with the incurable neurological disorder, but a new study suggests the link between stress and MS stops there.
“While we’ve known that stressful life events have been shown to increase the risk of MS episodes, we weren’t certain whether these stressors could actually lead to developing the disease,” study author Dr. Trond Riise, professor of lifestyle epidemiology at the University of Bergen in Norway, said in a .
Riise and his colleagues looked at more than 230,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study, a vast research project launched in 1976. The women were asked about stress at home and work, in addition to physical or sexual abuse they suffered during childhood or adolescence. The authors identified 369 women with MS. But after controlling for age, ethnicity, weight, and other factors, they found that MS was not more common in women who reported stress or abuse.
“This rules out stress as a major risk factor for MS,” Riise said.
But the study – published in the the May 31 issue of Neurology – has its critics.
Almost 400,000 Americans suffer from multiple sclerosis. The disease attacks the central nervous system, causing symptoms that include fatigue, memory loss, and problems with balance and muscle coordination.
Don’t Miss: Can Stress Cause Heart Palpitations
Multiple Sclerosis And Mental Health: 3 Common Challenges
Multiple sclerosis affects everyone differently. If you or your loved one has MS, you areprobably familiar with symptoms such as difficulty walking, fatigue, andnumbness or tingling. These and other physical symptoms can be severe andlimiting. However, emotional changes and mental health challenges can bejust as disabling.
Rehabilitation neuropsychologist Meghan Beier, Ph.D., discusses three common mood and mental health concerns for people with MSand how to address them.
All That Damage Adds Up
You may feel better after a relapse, but eventually, all of that damage adds up. Thats where Im at: as relapses happened and the damage in my brain continued to increase, Ive slowly encountered issues that wont go away. Experiencing stress about even trivial problems is just one change that Ive noticed over time.
Recommended Reading: Will Stress Cause Weight Loss
Worried About Ms 4 Triggers That Can Cause Flares
Periods of relapse and remission are common with the chronic disease multiple sclerosis. Find out about factors that might trigger MS symptoms.
For Americans living with multiple sclerosis , the majority are initially diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS, or when the symptoms ebb and flow. Although the flares of numbness, pain, dizziness, and imbalance can be unpredictable, there are certain triggers that cause the flare ups for many people.
“When a new neurological symptom develops in multiple sclerosis, one that isnt related to an infection, and lasts for more than 24 hours, it is considered to be an MS relapse,” explains Devon Conway, MD, a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic. While a relapse that causes serious symptoms usually needs to be treated, old symptoms that reappear are not as serious and often go away without needing treatment.
RELATED: 250+ Ways to Manage MS From Patients, Professionals, and Caregivers
How Can I Deal With Stress
Nobody can say what will be stressful for another person, and people have individual ways of dealing with stressful situations.
It might not be possible to remove all of the sources of stress in your life, but it may be possible to manage your own stress by changing the way you think about it, or reducing some of the stressful elements. There are techniques you can learn to help you cope better with stress and develop healthier habits of thinking. These may take time to have an effect.
There are three stages in stress management:
- Recognise the effect stress is having on your health.
- Identify what is causing you stress.
- Take action to remove or reduce the cause of stress.
Ideas to help you deal with stress:
Read Also: How To Relieve My Cats Stress
Actions For This Page
- Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that can affect the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
- Common symptoms include fatigue, bladder and bowel problems, sexual problems, pain, cognitive and mood changes such as depression, muscular changes and visual changes.
- See your doctor for investigation and diagnosis of symptoms, since some symptoms can be caused by other illnesses.
- Whilst there is not yet a cure for MS, researchers are making promising progress and discoveries about the treatment and management of MS every day.
How Ms Is Linked To Anxiety
Multiple sclerosis can trigger anxiety within the brain itself. But the actual reason that MS tends to do this is simply because the disease is scary, which may lead to problematic thinking patterns and negative emotions. Many of those with MS have frightening symptoms and recurrent, relapsing, progressively worse MS.
That’s something very important to keep in mind. Developing anxiety is normal with MS simply because MS is a frightening disease. Anxiety is a response to danger, and MS makes that anxiety warranted, which makes it harder to control.
However, MS can also cause anxiety and depression as a result of the illness itself. MS is linked to inflammation in various parts of the brain, and when the brain experiences damage and stress, it’s not uncommon for a person to experience anxiety. Depending on where the inflammation occurs, it may also provoke panic attacks as well.
In addition, the symptoms of MS can be triggers for those that already have anxiety. Panic disorder is a pertinent example. Many people with panic disorder have panic attacks as result of changes in their body’s sensations, and MS can cause changes in sensations that trigger panic attacks. While MS isn’t technically causing the panic attacks directly, it’s creating an environment that makes them far more likely.
All of these are the reasons that anxiety is a common condition for those with MS.
Don’t Miss: Do Stress Balls Gummies Work
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- How do we know for sure that I have multiple sclerosis and not another neurological condition?
- Do I need to start taking disease-modifying therapy medication?
- What are the benefits and risks of various DMTs?
- Will I need to stay on medication for the rest of my life?
- What lifestyle changes can I make to help manage MS?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the central nervous system . It is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune cells to mistakenly attack your healthy nerve cells. These attacks lead to inflammation and damage to the myelin sheath that covers and protects your nerve cells. This damage causes neurological symptoms such as loss of balance, vision problems and muscle weakness. Several effective treatments exist for MS. These medications reduce relapses and help slow the progression of the disease. Most people with MS are able to manage their symptoms and lead full, active lives.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/10/2021.
What Are The Main Risk Factors For Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis results when your immune system attacks the cells of the brain and spinal cord. It is an autoimmune disease, a condition in which the bodys immune system is misdirected and attacks its own cells.
The exact cause for MS is not known, however, and several factors can put you at risk of getting MS:
- Age: MS can occur at any age, but the most common age group is 15 to 60 years.
- Sex: MS is more common in women than in men.
- Genes: Although MS is not hereditary, you are more likely to get MS if you have a family history of MS.
The factors listed above often act interdependently to cause MS rather acting in isolation. For example, female individuals with a family history of MS are more likely to get MS compared with those females who have no family history of MS.
Read Also: How Can You Cope With Stress
How Can I Tell If I Have Stress
Medically speaking, stress causes changes in your blood pressure, heart rate and metabolism. You may not notice these changes yourself. In the short-term, these responses can improve your physical and mental performance to cope with immediate crises – the ‘fight or flight’ response. However, left unchecked, excessive stress can have negative effects on physical and emotional health, including a direct effect on levels of fatigue.
Everybody reacts differently to stress, but there are common symptoms:
- Physical – increased levels of sweating, muscle tightness, regular headaches, constipation or diarrhoea.
- Emotional – irritability, reduced concentration, feeling overwhelmed, problems making decisions, decreased confidence, low mood.
- Behavioural – difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, loss of libido, increased drinking or smoking and reduced willingness to socialise.
Multiple Regression And Permutation Testing
In the present study, several effects and associations were analyzed using linear multiple regression and permutation testing. Specifically, we used this technique to analyze group differences in cognitive load, task performance, changes in psychophysiological stress response variables, and brain volume . In these analyses, a dichotomous group membership vector served as covariate of interest. Moreover, the technique was used to analyze the associations between the following covariates of interest and criteria: cognitive load and task performance cognitive load and stress response variables and fatigue and disability-related activity .
In all analyses, a constant term and the mean-centered factors gender and age were used as covariates of no interest. In analyses of group differences in psychophysiological stress-response variables, the average intertrial interval for each participant during the last 8 min of stage IVb was used as an additional covariate of no interest.
Read Also: Is Acupuncture Good For Stress Relief
Psychophysiological Stress Responses Mental Arithmetic Performance And Cognitive Load
Measurement of psychophysiological stress response markers.
Heart rate data were acquired during fMRI scans using the standard pulse oximeter of the physiological monitoring unit provided with the MRI scanner . The pulse oximeter measures changes in infrared light transmission with a sampling frequency of 50 Hz. Because participants had to use their hands during the stress protocol to respond to the mental arithmetic tasks, the photoplethysmograph detector was placed around a participants toe. Furthermore, because occasionally spurious pulse oximeter signals may be detected as heartbeats, falsely suggesting a sudden increase in the heart rate, and because weak signals may lead to skipped heartbeats, falsely suggesting an apparent decrease in the heart rate, we filtered the heart rate signal computed by the PMU software to determine a measure of SNS activity. In particular, we first excluded heartbeats that were detected within the baseline pulse oximeter raw signal and secondly those that induced a heart rate acceleration to 133% or more or a deceleration to 75% or less. The remaining heartbeats were used for heart rate computation. Please note however, that all analyses of heart rates measured during stage IVb were restricted to heart rates assessed in the last 8 min of that stage.
Perceived stress/self-report data.
Nonlinear associations between psychophysiological stress responses and cognitive load.
Daily Life And Busyness
Day-to-day stressors are our daily inconveniences. They include things like misplacing keys, running late, and forgetting to bring an important item with you when leaving the house. Usually, these are just minor setbacks, but if they become frequent, they become a source of anxiety affecting physical and/or psychological health.
The stress of being too busy is getting more and more common. These days, people are busier than ever and that adds a lot of stress to their lives.
In some cases, busyness is due to necessity, such as having to work a second job. Other times, it is due to guilt and not wanting to disappoint others. People may not say “no” and end up having little time for themselves, or they overlook their own basic needs, such as eating right and exercising due to lack of time.
Read Also: Can Stress Cause You To Get Sick
Sexual Function And Ms
Sexual dysfunction is common in MS. It can be directly related to MS from brain or spinal cord lesions, or more indirectly related due to other MS symptoms such as depression and fatigue, or from wider relationship and social issues stemming from MS.
Although a difficult area to talk to your health professional about, it is an important area to maintain your quality of life and self-confidence. There are many avenues of help available from physical to psychological and your GP, MS nurse or neurologist can point you in the right direction for the most appropriate assessment and assistance.
How Many Small Decisions Do We Make In A Day
That stress led to weak and tingly arms and legs. That eventually led to me falling a few minutes later . I was then sidelined on the couch and ended up in bed early, all because of one moment with one symptom that made me so confused and stressed, all over trying to get a glass of water. Thats how small and simple things that no one would ever think could be an issue can bring me down. How many small decisions do we make in a day? Most people wouldnt even see that as a decision that needed making, theyd just open the cupboard and grab the first glass they saw. I normally would, too, but I have moments where my brain is just a jumbled mess. My point is, not only can my symptoms cause me stress, but the smallest of tasks can sometimes get to me.
Recommended Reading: How To Reduce Chest Pain From Stress