MS-UK Counsellor Jas Sembhi explains why people with multiple sclerosis can have low mood and anxiety
There are many reasons people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) may experience anxiety or low mood. There may be feelings of low mood when you are first diagnosed, feelings of anxiety should a relapse occur, feelings of anxiety at what the future may hold – in particular the uncertainty of not knowing what the future might be. There is also the anxiety of not being able to do everyday things that you could previously do.
Due to the present situation, some clients have spoken about feelings of anxiety due to COVID-19 and how this may impact them due to low immunity. Having to self-isolate and not being able to do the things which previously made them feel good is also leading to low mood.
One technique I practise to help with anxiety is ‘grounding’. This technique helps us to bring our attention to the present moment by focusing on our senses and naming to ourselves
• Five things we can see
• Four things we can feel
• Three things we can hear
• Two things we can smell
• One thing we can taste
Grounding can help take focus away from the anxiety felt about an uncertain future.
Sometimes, for people affected by MS, you may be experiencing low mood due to how you are feeling at the present moment and the symptoms you may be experiencing. Doing things that make you feel happy and that are good for you can help. It might be useful to begin by making a list of what makes you happy. These could be really simple things like listening to music that lifts your mood, looking at old photos that make you smile, wearing an outfit that makes you feel good, and talking to people who are positive.
In this present situation, although you may not be able to physically go out and meet people, you could make a note of people to call over the telephone or video call – sometimes just the thought that you will be speaking to someone who makes you feel good can start to help lift your mood.
It may be that you find it difficult to do some of the things that previously made you happy due to MS symptoms. It might help to try new things and see what works for you – for example, joining a peer support group. This can be helpful as it gives the opportunity to talk with people who have shared similar experiences – sometimes it can seem lonely feeling that others may not understand what you’re going through. Talking to someone who does understand may help you feel you are not alone.
Everyone will experience happiness differently – so it’s important to find what works for you.
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”
"There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called Yesterday and the other is called tomorrow. Today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live. "
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