Individuals with MS are at higher risk for emotional disorders, which can significantly disrupt family, work, and social life. These mood disorders are highly treatable through a combination of psychiatric and psychological therapy and medication treatment.
The resources exist, but the delivery of these treatments is not always well-implemented. Learning to address your concerns about your emotional reactions with your MS neurologist and other members of your healthcare team is essential. People with MS must not only focus on the physical symptoms of MS, but also on the emotional and psychological symptoms. When needed, ask your physician and/or nurse to refer you to mental-health professionals who are skilled in this area and who ideally have experience with MS or other chronic conditions.
Please note, however, that mental-health professionals who specialize in MS are extremely limited. According to MSAA’s client services department, “When people call for a referral, we refer them first to their MS center or neurologist, who may have someone to recommend. As a second option, we advise people with insurance to check with their provider for mental-health professionals who have a specialty in chronic illness, pain management, or neurological disorders. We explain that not every therapist may be a good match for every person, and that individuals may need to schedule a few introductory sessions with different providers before finding someone they are comfortable with.”
We hope that this article will help individuals with MS who are experiencing emotional or psychological issues to know that they are not alone – and that they should not feel embarrassed over these symptoms that they cannot control. Seeking help by discussing these issues with your doctor is the first step toward returning to a happier and more satisfying quality of life.
Readers may visit MSAA’s website at mymsaa.org, or call MSAA at (800) 532-7667, for more information.