Coping with the ups and downs of living with MS

MS symptoms may appear with little warning. Understand how to deal with the unpredictability of this disease. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms come and go at unpredictable times and can be emotionally draining. Here are some ways to help you cope:

Do your best to maintain normal daily activities
Modify your activities based on the physical limits you have. For example, a trip to the store may mean buying fewer groceries at a time to ease the physical burden of the task while still sticking to a routine. If it's hard to exercise, try using canes or walkers to help. You can also adjust your schedule. Try waking up 15 minutes earlier to avoid the morning rush, or doing any prep work for your day the night before.

Socialize with friends and family

  • Stay connected with friends and family, even if it means changing what you usually do.
  • If fatigue keeps you from socializing, rest before you go out for the evening, or plan to come home early.
  • Opt for activities that require less physical effort, such as playing cards or board games.
  • Talk with your family and friends about MS so that they understand what you can and can't do.

Talk to others about your experiences
Talk to a doctor who's willing to listen and discuss the issues you're facing, rather than just give advice. A counselor or therapist can also help put things in perspective. Some of them use a technique called cognitive behavioral therapy, which has been shown to help people cope with MS symptoms. Finally, support groups can help you figure out more ways to deal with the unpredictability of MS. Ask your doctor to recommend support groups in your community.

Nov. 14, 2013