Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's Not All In Your Head: Anxiety Depression, Mood Swings and Multiple Sclerosis

Ask anyone with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) what frustrates her and the answer may  be the unpredictability of the disease, the waxing and waning of symptoms, the stress this brings to her life and the loss of control over planning for the future.  Dr. Patricia Farrell really “gets” MS and describes MS patients as being faced with the “possible dilemma of being lost in your own life…the not-knowing aspect that increases any physical and mental stress you may feel.” 

Farrell’s book is a how-to guide that begins with an introduction to MS and the disease process. Most MS patients have read about the physical impact of the disease, but, may not be as familiar with other aspects of MS such as depression, cognition and anxiety and why these symptoms happen to so many MS patients (it is not all in your head).

You’ll learn that about 25 recent studies show an association between stress and 
MS – a fascinating chapter called “The Mind Body Connection.” It is worth buying the book just to read this chapter – but keep reading because Farrell doesn’t just give facts, she also provides a great “how to help yourself,” manage cognitive challenges including memory issues, depression, and live a better life with MS. She shares patient stories as well as strategies for daily living, and each chapter has a list for more reading. She also has a resource list in the appendix.

For anyone with MS it’s a great place to start understanding the emotional side of the disease, but more importantly it provides strategies that can normalize life for the patient and family. Well written by Dr. Farrell it is one I will recommend to others with MS.