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A to Z of MS Anxiety

Regardless of specific medical problems, living with multiple sclerosis can be a source of strain. The loss of functions, altered life circumstances and not knowing how one will feel from day to day, or from morning to afternoon, are significant causes of anxiety.

Anxiety can be described as a feeling of unease, worry or fear that can become so persistent that it affects a person's ability to function normally. Anxiety can cause a physical response that produces symptoms such as tiredness, insomnia, weakness, the urge to go to the toilet and a blurring of vision.

Anxiety is commonly experienced alongside other disorders such as stress, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Rather than being distinct and individual disorders, it is helpful to think of these conditions existing at different points across a spectrum of mood disorders.

A counsellor, psychologist or MS nurse can help with these problems through encouraging the individual to develop self help strategies such as relaxation techniques, discussing fears or distraction techniques. Cognitive behaviour therapy may also help to ease anxiety. In more severe cases medication may be prescribed.

Reference

Giordano A, et al.
Anxiety and depression in multiple sclerosis patients around diagnosis.
Journal of Neurological Science 2011;307(1-2):86-91.
abstract

Burns MN, et al.
Comorbid anxiety disorders and treatment of depression in people with multiple sclerosis.
Rehabilitation Psychology 2010 Aug;55(3):255-262.
read online

Korostil M, Feinstein A.
Anxiety disorders and their clinical correlates in multiple sclerosis patients.
Multiple Sclerosis 2007;13(1):67-72.
abstract

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