Living with Multiple Sclerosis

When you get an illness like bronchitis or the flu, you know you'll be feeling better and functioning normally within a week or so. A chronic illness, like multiple sclerosis (MS), is different.

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Multiple Sclerosis may never go away and can disrupt your lifestyle in many ways. But, by keeping a positive attitude, you should be better able to cope with the changes.

How can I maintain a positive attitude?

MS should not define who you are. You are the same person you were before you were diagnosed -- you just have a heavier load to bear. The best thing you can do is to learn how to make your life better. Here are some tips:

  • Get help if you need it. The most important step you can take is to seek help as soon as you feel less able to cope. Taking action early will enable you to understand and deal with the many effects of MS. Learning to manage stress will help you maintain a positive physical, emotional, and spiritual outlook on life. A mental health care provider can design a treatment plan to meet your specific needs. Strategies can be designed to help you regain a sense of control over your life and improve your quality of life. At times, if depression is present, medications may be ordered to help lift your mood.
  • Find a support group. Support groups can be a very useful sharing experience. They provide an environment where you can learn new ways of dealing with your illness. You may want to share approaches you have discovered with others. You will also gain strength in knowing that you are not facing hardships alone.
  • Consider counseling. Sometimes people have problems that are better addressed in a one-on-one atmosphere. By participating in individual counseling, you may be able to more effectively express sensitive or private feelings you have about your illness and its impact on your life and relationships.
  • Take care of yourself. Follow nutrition guidelines, exercise, develop stress management techniques, and get enough rest.
  • Keep a diary. Write down your experiences, symptoms, and feelings. Not only will this be a valuable tool for your doctor, but it will also help you learn to express yourself.
  • Take control. There is often such a sense of uncertainty with MS that it may help to take control of the things in your life that you can control. You should also consider some of your life-planning issues, such as finances, work, adapting your home, and other practical issues. Be proactive in your health, get educated, and ask questions.

© Copyright 1995-2013 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 12/31/2011…#11605

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