Do you have anxious, racing thoughts? Do you feel as if you are stressing out from time to time, feeling depressed, out of control, or inadequate? Do you keep dwelling in the past or worrying about the future? You most probably do. From time to time, everyone may experience those feelings, perhaps more so amongst people living with MS, but they are usually short-lived and don’t require any special attention.
However, if anxiety starts to affect your routine, your health, and quality of life, it presents a problem that needs to be addressed. Not only can anxiety interfere with your mental wellbeing, but it can also affect you physically. Anxiety may exacerbate existing MS symptoms such as fatigue, muscle tension, insomnia, and bowel problems. If you think you might be experiencing anxiety- what can you do? We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, let’s talk about what NOT to do. Do not overlook your anxiety. Do not let it go on undetected and untreated. Do not let it continue to have a taxing effect on your life. Although anxiety can feel overwhelming to the point that you don’t know where to start, you have actually already begun healing by recognizing these feelings. It is the first step towards managing anxiety. The next steps include finding ways to cope, either on your own or with professional help. You should discuss your psychological symptoms, including anxiety with your health care MS team.
They may suggest strategies and techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and practicing mindfulness.
They might also recommend lifestyle changes to improve overall wellbeing. Exercising regularly, for example, improves mood and self-esteem. Another suggestion might include getting social support. In some cases, they might also prescribe medications.