The MS – Stress Connection
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While off camera with some of the MS experts we were interviewing last week the topic of stress came up. My nurse practitioner mentioned one study which had been published this past summer that I hadn’t heard about. I decided to do a bit of sleuthing and I found thepaper to which she was speaking.
MS experts in Louisiana studied over 120 people living with multiple sclerosis using stress management treatments. These therapies included relaxation techniques, problem solving skills, cognitive restructuring therapy, enhancement of social support, help with sleep issues and increased positive activities throughout the study period. Patients were either treated right away or waitlisted for a period of 24 weeks as a control.
The most interesting information to come out of the study, as far as this blogger is concerned, was not only that the treatment groupfeltbetter; “77 percent of the patients undergoing stress management therapy remained free of lesions while they were in treatment compared to 55 percent of those in the control group," reported Dr. Jesus Lovera, the study’s lead investigator.
So controlling stress in our lives might actually slow down the progression of our disease (as measured inMRI enhancing lesions)!
One key to this study was that after treatment with stress management strategies ended, the lesion relapse rate returned to the same of the control group. Researchers hypothesized that many factors – including the need for longer (maybe even indefinite) therapy, inability to sustain the skills taught and possibly even that the supportive nature of the testing relationships may have been a factor.
This is just one, small study into the idea that we might be able to control some of the activity of our MS though active stress reduction. These pioneering studies can lose funds for expanded research into the power of our minds and bodies to help heal themselves.
I look forward to hearing more about this type of research and, in the meantime, will return to the breathing practices my yoga instructor recommends for every day, try to reduce stress but most importantly, I will actively meet life’s stresses in my daily life with MS… once this international move thing is done and I can relax a bit!
How do you cope with stress? Does this study encourage you to find some active coping skills?
Wishing you and your family the best of health.
You can also follow me via our Life With MS Facebook page, on Twitter, and in our group on MS Connection.org. Also, check out our bi-monthly MS blog for the United Kingdom, and don’t forget to check out TrevisLGleason.com.
Video: Nadia Haddad, MD, MS on a Practical, Holistic Approach to Stress & Wellness in a High Pressure World
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