Anxiety and Multiple Sclerosis

Anxiety and MS

Increased Anxiety a Symptom of MS

Living with Multiple Sclerosis brings a host of symptoms but one that seems to be aggravating me more lately has to be anxiety or nervousness. I was diagnosed in 2004 but was misdiagnosed with other things several years before this date; but never have I experienced such pronounced symptoms as these as I have this past year. Sometimes it is hard for me to distinguish between nervousness and anxiety since they both seem to have similar symptoms. I suppose that it could be both at times.

When either or both of these are present, I try to figure out why or what is going on at that time which is causing them to be so pronounced. More often than not, I can’t come up with a satisfying answer. There is no stressful situation that I am in to cause this type of reaction. I am not so sure that there is a distinguishing difference between the two. I know I have a rise in heart rate and probably blood pressure, along with increase in respirations. There are definitely tremors, especially in my hands but unless I hold them out it isn’t really noticeable. Unfortunately, my muscles in my neck and shoulders tense which is usually what brings my attention to me going through this. Then nausea or stomach issues arise which can be uncomfortable. I can almost relate these symptoms to those of stage fright except there is no pending action to give cause.

So now that I have established what these symptoms are like for me and there is no identifying reason for them to be happening, I give the credit to Multiple Sclerosis. Over the years, when reading about MS and all the different symptoms that are connected to it, these two weren’t even half way up the list. For me, that means that this is not that troublesome or fewer people report having this issue. What I have found more recently though is that there have been several documentations of anxiety present in MS patients than I ever remember. It is almost like a bell goes off in my head every time I see something published about this.

Most of these published articles state that anxiety is a symptom of MS and it is caused by inflammation within some part of the brain. Fear seems to be the initial cause because of the concern of our health. Some of us are predisposed to anxiety and this only makes the condition more noticeable. It can lead to having panic attacks. Some reports link it to depression as well. Everything I read though indicates that it is treatable by medications or by can be relieved through breathing techniques, exercise, or keeping busy. Since I am certain fear is not my leading cause, and I am not depressed but am on an anti-depressant; I do control my problem through deep breathing, exercise, and meditation. All of these have helped make living with anxiety a little easier. The past year and a half my MS has been mostly in a relapse along with a recent MRI showing new active lesions present causing several problems. Changing to a new DMD has just been started, so I am hoping that several of my complaints will soon subside.

I just wanted to speak on this because if you are going through or experiencing anxiety you are not alone. Speak with your physician about this symptom for recommendations of medications, but also use the tools mentioned above. They might not stop it completely but it has helped me manage mine to where it isn’t as noticeable.

MS Blogger and Multiple Sclerosis Activist shares her journey living with MS, tips for others living MS and her husband, Steve, offers his insight as a caregiver for MS.