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Why I decided to research psychological treatments to suit people with MS

This Mental Health Awareness week, please consider completing a survey on MS and psychological support. Hannah explains her motivation for her research topic.

range of people

Many explanations have been put forward to understand the causes of relapse in RRMS and no one explanation has proved conclusive in all cases and therefore it is more likely due to a combination of factors in each individual. 

For me, after some years I came to notice a pattern that led me to make a conclusion in my own case: stress is a trigger for relapse. It took a few years and few relapses to realise that this was the common factor preceding any relapse I had. 

It has become very useful to know this as it became clear that I needed to learn and establish stress management techniques when necessary as a means to avoid future relapse. 

Globally we have all been thrown into a period of fear and uncertainty so I am particularly aware of stress as my trigger at this time. This along with the fact that I am not taking any medication for MS makes me feel particularly vulnerable to experiencing a relapse. Managing my stress could not be more important than it is now. 

I work and study from home so you’d think that this situation wouldn’t affect me much, but throw home schooling into mix and you have a whole new story. Not only do I have to take on a role I didn’t sign up to but now more than ever I need to manage my time more effectively to ensure that I not only fulfil my usual roles, but my take on my new responsibilities as a teacher too. All this whilst controlling my own stress levels to avoid falling into relapse at a time where I will struggle to get the treatment I would need if this should occur. Not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. 

Whilst I had come to recognise stress as my trigger, I didn’t know how to manage it to avoid its consequences. I hadn’t been offered any type of support to deal with things such as stress, or indeed any of the other psychological consequences of MS, so I sought to learn my stress management skills from various sources through a course of trial and error. The ‘errors’ leading to relapse on a number of occasions until I was able to find something that works for me. 

This is my personal experience, but I understand that everyone elses triggers and experiences are different and this is why it is important to understand the variety of experiences in MS in order to develop the most effective psychological treatments to suit a diversity of people. 

As part of my research I’m inviting you to have your say and contribute by partnering with us on this endeavour and completing this online survey here by clicking the ‘start’ button at the bottom of the page. https://research.reading.ac.uk/neurodegenerative-diseases/multiple-sclerosis/

Or you can go directly to the survey here: https://forms.gle/5YTssp4pDVFciYEe9

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Steven Alden (not verified)

Great start to your blog! I am a 64 year old male with progressive MS in the United States. I look forward to more topics and surveys.