Anxiety is essentially fear. When you have a sense of losing control, you can feel overwhelmed.
Anxiety is three times more common in people with MS than in people without MS.2 It can impact people through decreased social interactions, and through increased alcohol consumption. It can also increase pain levels and affect how fast your brain processes information.2
In people with MS, not knowing when symptoms or flare-ups will occur or how severe they will be can cause anxiety, especially if there are work and family responsibilities.
Sometimes people with anxiety will avoid whatever it is they are worried about. For example if they are worried about getting dizzy while driving, they will avoid getting in the car, or if they are worried about having a bowel or bladder problem in public they will avoid going out and may stop spending time doing things they enjoy with friends and family. There are some simple strategies that can help you to deal with anxiety:
- Get more information – Arming yourself with information can often help if you are worrying about something such as the side effects of your treatment
- When you find yourself worrying, remind yourself that worrying is not helpful and might be making you feel even more anxious
- Distract yourself by counting backwards or by multiples of 7 or 9
- Practise a meditation or mindfulness exercise
There are effective treatments for anxiety. Speak to your GP, neurologist or MS nurse if you think you have anxiety.
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- Boeschoten RE, et al. J Neurol Sci. 2017;372:331-341.
- John Hopkins. Multiple sclerosis and mental health: 3 common challenges. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/multiple-sclerosis-ms/multiple-sclerosis-and-mental-health-3-common-challenges (date of last update not specified).