Everyone can relate to feeling stressed from time to time. It’s part of being a human.
Stress is a normal response when there’s a perceived threat to survival or your way of life. Though your body’s natural response to stress — wanting to run away from it or fight it — isn’t usually an option.
Stress isn’t always negative. Major life events like moving, starting a new job, or having a baby can cause stress too.
When stress is ongoing, it can start to affect your well-being. Stress can cause a variety of symptoms, including headaches, tension, sleep difficulty, and mood changes. Long-term stress can lead to depression and cause physical symptoms.
It’s impossible to avoid stress altogether, but you can find ways to better respond to stress. When you live with multiple sclerosis (MS), finding ways to manage your stress is an important part of managing your condition.
Does stress affect MS?
MS is an autoimmune disease. The immune system is designed to attack harmful invaders like viruses or bacteria. In MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks myelin, the protective coating on the nerves. This results in damage to the myelin.
There may be a link between stress and autoimmune diseases like MS. Researchers have found that people who have been diagnosed with stress-related conditions are more likely Trusted Source to develop an autoimmune disease. However, more research is needed to understand this connection.
Science hasn’t been able to draw a conclusive link between stress and MS flares. Stress can cause a variety of emotional and physical symptoms that can affect how you feel. If you’re already dealing with symptoms of MS or its treatments, the extra toll of stress can make you feel worse.
MS lesions are areas of damage in the nervous system. They can be seen using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). New lesions look different than older ones. Researchers have been studying how different factors may influence the formation of new lesions.
One study Trusted Source explored the effects of both positive and negative stressful events. Negative stress was defined as a threat to the person or their family. The study found that periods of negative stress resulted in more brain lesions. Positive stress events did not.
Another study found that stress management counseling reduced Trusted Source the number of new MS brain lesions. However, the effects did not last. There was no significant difference in lesions at the 24 week follow-up. To read this article in its entirety click here: Does stress affect your MS