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Managing Stress with Multiple Sclerosis

Managing Stress with Multiple Sclerosis

Living with a chronic autoimmune disease like multiple sclerosis (MS) can present various challenges, including managing symptoms, maintaining mobility, and coping with the unpredictable nature of the disease. Characterized by inflammation and demyelination of nerve fibers, MS presents symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, numbness, muscle spasms and stiffness, vision troubles, sensory disturbances, bladder and bowel dysfunction, cognitive changes, emotional challenges, and more.

Although the exact cause of MS remains unknown, research indicates that both genetic and environmental factors play a role in its development. Furthermore, emerging evidence highlights the impact of stress on disease progression, as well as the mental well-being of individuals living with the condition.

This blog explores the relationship between multiple sclerosis and stress, by throwing light on how stress affects MS symptoms. We will also detail effective strategies for stress management for individuals living with MS.

Understanding the Connection Between Multiple Sclerosis and Stress

Multiple sclerosis and stress share a sort of symbiotic relationship. Stress can exacerbate MS symptoms, this we all know. However, the symptoms of MS, such as fatigue, pain, and mobility issues, can also trigger stress responses in individuals. This creates a vicious interplay where stress worsens MS symptoms, leading to increased stress levels, and vice versa.

How Stress Affects Multiple Sclerosis

Stress triggers physiological responses in the body, including the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. In people with MS, stress hormones have been known to activate the immune system and promote inflammation. This leads to worsening of symptoms and increased disease activity, as well as faster progression of the disease.

Symptoms of Stress in Multiple Sclerosis

Stress manifests differently in each individual with MS, but some of the most common symptoms may include:

  • Mood changes (mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and depression)
  • Cognitive difficulties (difficulties with memory, concentration, and decision-making)
  • Worsening of physical symptoms (muscle stiffness, weakness, numbness, and balance problems)
  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia or poor-quality sleep)

The Role of Trauma in Multiple Sclerosis

Trauma refers to any event or experience that causes physical, emotional, or psychological harm. Traumatic events can range from physical injuries, or illnesses to emotional or psychological stressors that include abuse, neglect, or other significant life events. 

New research indicates that trauma may influence the development and progression of MS through its effects on the immune system, neuroendocrine system, as well as the central nervous system (CNS).

Physical Trauma and Multiple Sclerosis

Head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other kinds of physical trauma have always been regarded as potential risk factors for multiple sclerosis. Individuals who experience traumatic injuries, especially those involving the CNS, are at an increased risk of developing MS or experiencing disease exacerbations. 

Trauma-induced inflammation, disruption of the blood-brain barrier, and activation of the immune system may contribute to the initiation or progression of MS.

Psychological Trauma and Multiple Sclerosis

Experiences of abuse, neglect, and other life stressors are examples of psychological trauma. These can greatly influence the development and progression of MS. Trauma and chronic stress lead to a dysregulated immune system, increased inflammation, and susceptibility to MS (and other autoimmune conditions). 

Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other trauma-related psychological symptoms can also exacerbate MS symptoms while negatively impacting overall well-being of the individual.

Trauma and Stress Management

One of the most challenging aspects of living with MS is managing triggers or stressors as well as addressing past trauma. While both of these are vital for maintaining general health and well-being of an individual, it becomes absolutely imperative for those living with MS to do so. 

You can reduce stress by making lifestyle changes like practicing meditation, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy diet. These habits help manage stress and improve your mind-body connection.

At Plexus, we offer the following support and therapies for managing stress as well as coming to terms with past trauma(s):

Counseling and Therapy

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with stress and trauma. We help individuals develop coping strategies, overcome irrational beliefs, as well as learn effective stress management techniques.
  • Trauma-Focused Therapy addresses the effects of trauma and helps individuals process traumatic experiences in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Supportive Counseling provides validation, emotional support, and practical guidance for coping with stress and trauma.
  • Caregiver Support helps individuals caring for those with MS. We offer practical guidance and throw light on the importance of understanding symptoms, disease progression, and other factors that can help caregivers be there for their loved ones.


Mindfulness and Relaxation

  • Practicing mindfulness meditation involves bringing attention to the present moment without judgment. This helps individuals reduce stress, increase self-awareness, and cultivate a sense of calm and acceptance.
  • Deep breathing exercises activate the body’s relaxation response, reduce physiological arousal, as well as promote feelings of relaxation and well-being.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation involves systematically tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body, promoting physical relaxation and reducing muscle tension associated with stress.


  • It is important to prioritise self care, and this can be done by adopting certain lifestyle changes, such as getting adequate sleep, maintaining a balanced diet, setting boundaries, and practicing self-compassion.

Remember, managing stress with multiple sclerosis is not about eliminating stress altogether, but rather about building resilience, cultivating self-compassion, and embracing a balanced approach to life’s challenges. With the right support, coping strategies, and mindset, individuals with MS can navigate stress more effectively and thrive despite the challenges they may face.

If you wish to know more about our trauma and stress management programs, reach out to Team Plexus today.

WhatsApp +91 89048 42087

Call +91 78159 64668 (Hyderabad) | +91 82299 99888 (Bangalore)

We also offer personalized regenerative rehabilitation for multiple sclerosis at our centers in Bangalore and Hyderabad.


How do you manage anxiety with multiple sclerosis?

In order to manage anxiety with multiple sclerosis, Plexus follows a multifaceted approach that includes therapy and stress management techniques like mindfulness and relaxation exercises.

Is stress bad for MS patients?

Stress can exacerbate MS symptoms and cause flare-ups, making it important for MS patients to manage stress levels.

What should you avoid with MS?

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the number one prerogative of patients with MS. Avoid smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and high-stress situations that can exacerbate symptoms. Eating well-balanced meals and avoiding extreme temperatures can also help manage MS symptoms, as well as improve overall well-being.

What is the best treatment for multiple sclerosis?

Plexus offers the best multiple sclerosis rehabilitation program that is customized based on the individual’s symptoms, disease course, and other factors. Our award-winning rehabilitation program includes stem cell therapy, physical therapy, motor relearning, fatigue management, speech therapy, and more. Reach out to our teams in Bangalore and Hyderabad to know more.

WhatsApp +91 89048 42087

Call +91 78159 64668 (Hyderabad) | +91 82299 99888 (Bangalore)

Can MS cause panic attacks?

The stress and uncertainty associated with MS may cause panic attacks. Certain MS symptoms, such as numbness, tingling, or difficulty breathing, can also mimic sensations experienced during panic attacks. 

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