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Living with MS

Mind and Emotions

Emotional Aspects of MS

In addition to its physical symptoms, MS can have a profound effect on one's emotions. People can have painful feelings about the disease as well as mood changes caused by the disease. Education, support, a healthy lifestyle, and medications and professional help when necessary, can make all the difference.
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Common Emotional Reactions
Regardless of the kind of MS a person develops, emotional reactions are likely to be similar. Some emotions are...
  • Fear
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Grieving
  • Depression
  • Guilt

James LaRocca—
"I realize now that you need to use your talents or hobbies to work through the grief process."

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image Depression

People with MS should be aware that depression is common during the course of the disease.

Depression: An overview


Depression and MS

Depression: My Story
"The combination of medication and counseling helped me regain some control in my life and begin accepting my new reality."

  Depression does not indicate weak character and it should not be considered something shameful that needs to be hidden.  

Special Emotional Stress of MS
In addition to the emotional stresses that apply to anyone with a chronic illness, there are some characteristics of MS that create special emotional burdens. They include...


Emotions and Your Family
The person with MS is not the only person in the family and circle of friends who must adjust to a changed situation.

Family therapy can provide useful strategies for understanding and coping with emotional responses.


What You Can Do
Here are some points that contribute to successful living with MS...


Just like Life, Only More so and other stories of illness

Just Like Life, Only More So and Other Stories of Illness
by Dana Snyder-Grant
Read review | Order through Amazon.com

MS and Your Feelings MS and Your Feelings: Handling the Ups and Downs of Multiple Sclerosis
by Allison Shadday
Order through Amazon.com
Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired: Living with Invisible Chronic Illness, 2nd Edition
by Paul J. Donoghue, Mary Elizabeth Siegel
Order through Amazon.com
Emotions image

Your chapter of the National MS Society can provide a wide variety of resources to assist you in dealing with the emotional aspects of MS. To connect with your chapter call 1-800-344-4867.


Is It Your Medication?

Various medications used to treat MS—such as steroids—can have significant effects on the emotions.


webcast icon Webcasts
(transcripts available)

MS Learn Online presents
Managing Your Symptoms


Laughing and Crying Uncontrollably

Understanding the Disorder

Living With, Coping With, and Treatment Options

Multiple Sclerosis International Federation MS in Focus

Multiple Sclerosis International Federation's new magazine

Issue 4: Special Focus on Emotions and Cognition (PDF)

Clinical Bulletin Clinical Bulletin

Print out the document below and share it with your heathcare provider.

Pseudobulbar Affect (Uncontrollable Laughing and/or Crying) (PDF)

Mood Changes that Can Occur in MS

Emotional lability— Emotions expressed in an exaggerated manner. A person may laugh or cry more easily than before. A sad comment may cause tears. A joke may induce uncontrolled laughter.

Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA) [Uncontrollable laughing and/or crying]—Severe form of emotional lability with uncontrollable episodes of laughing and/or crying that are unpredictable with little or no relationship to actual events or the individual’s actual feelings.

Medications and counseling can be effective for severe mood swings. Read more


Whether you have invisible MS or use a wheelchair wherever you go, everyone with this disease is prone to feeling isolated. What can we do?

MS as a Spiritual Journey
Individuals grapple with the spiritual issues MS raises—while professionals study the effects of faith and personal philosophy on outcomes.

You CAN...Overcome Depression

You CAN...Get a Handle on Stress


There is Help

The local chapter of the National MS Society can provide a variety of resources to assist people in dealing with the emotional aspects of MS, including support groups, workshops, and other programs geared to maintaining the quality of life of persons with MS.

Chapters are also excellent sources of referral to community resources.

Contact your chapter at 1-800-344-4867.

MS and Cognition

About 50% of people with MS develop some cognitive dysfunction, including memory, reasoning, and concentration problems.
Read more about MS and Cognition

MS and Intimacy

MS symptoms may change one’s capacity to experience sexual pleasure. Learning to share your feelings can help overcome barriers.
Read more about
MS and Intimacy

"But You Look So Good!"

People who have “invisible” MS symptoms have a unique set of problems. Some people assume that you don’t really have a disease. This can cause frustration and anger. Learn how to cope with invisible symptoms

Last updated September `17, 2007
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