Coping with a New Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis
Receiving a multiple sclerosis diagnosis can be frightening, distressing, and emotionally overwhelming for patients. However, for a few, the news brings some relief in finally knowing the cause behind previously unexplained symptoms.
More treatment options are available today, including infusion biologics that can significantly improve the quality of life of MS patients, slowing down disease progression, and reducing the number and intensity of flare-ups.
There is no denying that a multiple sclerosis diagnosis can be devastating, but there are ways of coping with the diagnosis. We hope the following strategies help new patients manage the news.
Watch the Video: Coping with a New Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis
Know That You Are Not Alone
When you first receive your diagnosis, your immediate reaction might be disbelief and feelings of isolation, but be rest assured that you are not alone.
Nearly one million adults are currently living with MS in the United States. This means you have access to an extensive community of people who understand your feelings and can help you deal with the emotional and physical challenges ahead.
Allow Yourself to Grieve
After your diagnosis, you may go through the five stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance.
It’s important to allow yourself time to grieve. Then, as you transition through the different stages, please share your thoughts and feelings with your loved ones and your medical team. Doing so will help them understand your mental and emotional state and help you through this difficult time.
Learn as Much as You Can About Your Condition
Misinformation is the enemy. There are many myths and misconceptions about multiple sclerosis that can make your diagnosis scarier than necessary.
Your doctor can help you understand the facts of MS, update you on new therapies, and offer vital lifestyle changes to help you manage your disease better.
There are also many reputable online educational resources. An excellent place to start is the National Multiple Sclerosis Society which offers valuable information that can help you understand your illness and connect with support groups in your area or online.
Learn to Communicate
After your diagnosis, your friends and family will likely be eager to help, but don’t know how.
Most people highly misunderstand MS because many of its symptoms are invisible. For example, forgetfulness and fatigue are common symptoms of the illness, but few people will be able to recognize these as such.
Learning to communicate your symptoms and feelings with those closest to you can help them gain insight into your daily struggles.
Sincere, open communication is crucial when speaking to your doctor, as the information is instrumental in adjusting your drug doses and adding or eliminating medications from your disease management plan.
The old saying “it takes a village” surely applies to living with MS. You should fight any urge to isolate and instead seek the support of family, friends, other patients, and of course, your medical team.
There is a large community of support you can tap into. Ask your doctor to recommend local and online MS support groups for you to join. While your loved ones can provide help in your daily life, being able to share your experience with others who are going through a similar situation will help you deal with the more intimate and emotional side of the disease.
Find the Right MS Specialist for You
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease. Therefore, you will be in the care of a MS specialist for a prolonged period of time. This means that finding a good match is of the utmost importance.
When finding the right specialist to care for you long-term, there are certain factors to consider. Proximity and convenience, their credentials, and knowing if they offer in-office infusion therapy are essential.
Receiving your infusion therapy at your doctor’s office offers a much better patient experience, and personalized treatment can improve treatment outcomes.
Living with this disease is challenging as MS symptoms can be unpredictable, but with suitable medical attention and innovative infusion treatments, you can lead a long, happy, and productive life.