Soft Skills - Stress Management
How Group Education Can Reduce MS Stress
Classes that combine information with group support can reduce depression, anxiety, stress, and pain for people with MS.
By Alex Kramer
Medically Reviewed by Farrokh Sohrabi, MD
Don't Miss This
Sign Up for OurLiving with Multiple SclerosisNewsletter
Thanks for signing up!You might also like these other newsletters:
Life with multiple sclerosis (MS) is often described as a physical and emotional roller coaster, but new evidence suggests that a comprehensive wellness program can help lower stress and improve overall well-being for those with the disease.
Referred to as psychoeducation by medical professionals, such a program "helps patients understand the disease and learn how to cope with the unpredictable symptoms, which is a great complement to the medical treatment for MS,” says Kimberly McGuire, PhD, a clinical psychologist with the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, New Jersey.
Dr. McGuire led a study on psychoeducation for people with MS that was described in the September 2014 issue of International Journal of MS Care.
“The comprehensive model is absolutely gaining steam," McGuire says.
In the study, 43 people with MS attended weekly wellness sessions focused on improving their quality of life; 11 others did not attend the classes and served as a comparison group. The sessions covered topics that included stress management, the mind-body connection, and how to talk to family members about the disease.
All participants completed several questionnaires at the beginning and end of the study. The questionnaires measured levels of depression, anxiety, stress, pain, fatigue, and other factors. The study found that those who attended the sessions saw improvements in several areas, including depression, anxiety, stress, and pain.
Benefits of Psychoeducation
In McGuire’s study, psychoeducation involved putting participants into groups of five to 10 people to help them learn more about MS, both from the group leader (in this case, McGuire) and from each other. The point of the group setting was for people to share their unique obstacles in a supportive environment.
“It allows people to have emotional reactions, and to have their individual needs met,” says Rosalind Kalb, PhD, a clinical psychologist and spokeswoman for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “When people come together, they share concerns, anecdotes, and their personal experiences — it's a combination of education and support.”
RELATED: Helping Your Loved One Cope With a Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis
That support can be crucial because of the unpredictability of the disease. MS, which often strikes young adults in the prime of their lives, is characterized by periods of symptoms alternating with periods of remission. Dr. Kalb says that the inability to predict when and how symptoms will occur makes it important for people with MS to have a strong support system.
“Psychoeducation isn’t just giving someone a pamphlet with information; all of the information can be overwhelming,” she says. “A supportive environment empowers patients to become their own advocates.”
Managing an Unpredictable Disease
To help manage your MS — and perhaps feel more empowered and less stressed — McGuire and Kalb suggest that you:
- Become an MS expert:Learn everything you can about MS; it will help inform how you deal with it.
- Build a supportive environment:Find an MS support group, or even just one other person who knows what you’re going through.
- Teach your family and friends about MS:The more they know about what you live with every day, the more supportive they can be of you.
- Be your own advocate with your physician:Speaking up about your needs can help you to feel more in control of your disease.
- Ask your physician about educational opportunities in your area: Patient demand can be key in increasing the availability of a variety of health services, including comprehensive wellness programs.
- Practice a relaxation technique:This may reduce stress and anxiety, which can help with symptoms.
McGuire and Kalb also recommend that people follow a fitness regimen to help manage their disease.
“We are just starting to learn that exercise — geared towards the individual — is particularly important for people with MS,” Kalb says. “It is beneficial for increasing mobility, improving mood, and reducing fatigue.”
These potential benefits make McGuire feel optimistic about the future of wellness programs for those with MS. She says she plans to do further research to refine her program and to encourage more healthcare providers to recommend the comprehensive treatment approach.
Video: WORD STRESS & INTONATION in English- Improve your English pronunciation | Speak Fluent English
The Perfect Hairstyles for Fine Hair
How to Get an Older Guy to Like You (Teen Girls)
The Trick to Making Life Easier Nailing Your Signature Beauty Style
Berry Iced Yogurt Recipe
How to Distract Yourself from Hunger
4 Ways To Build Stronger Bones With Pilates
How to Do Daniel Craig Hair
How to Be Stylish Without Spending a Lot of Money
David Koma Focused on the Warrior Dress for FallWinter 2019
Quillichew ER Reviews
Are You Lonely
7 Sex Moves That Put YOU in Control
How to Activate Call Forwarding
How to Reuse an Old Bottle of Nail Polish
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)