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Can MS Be Brought On By Stress?

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that is characterized by damage to the nerves of body. The main organs affected are the spinal cord, the brain and the optic nerve. The neuronal transmission system is severely affected. Normally, the neurons work in a proper synchronization in order to get proper responses to various stimuli acting on the body. But the nerves are damaged in MS and hence this function gets disturbed. The disease causes problems with normal functioning of the body.

Involuntary movements are seen; the gait is affected because the balancing ability of the body is also compromised. Visual disturbances are also very prominent due to optic neuritis.

Can MS Be Brought On By Stress?

Can MS Be Brought On By Stress?

According to a study conducted to find out if stress acts as a risk factor for causing MS, it was found that stress does not have any role in acting as a risk factor for causing multiple sclerosis. But it has been proved that stress can cause flaring up of multiple sclerosis.

A study was done to find out if stress acts as a trigger factor for flaring up or worsening of MS. For this, two groups of patients were selected. One group was given special stress management therapy to cope up with the stress in their life. The other group was not given any treatment or therapy. Follow ups were conducted at regular intervals to check the progress of the disease.

The results showed that people who were given stress management therapy showed better progress and less incidence of flare up. On the other hand, the people who did not get the stress management therapy, they showed worsening of symptoms and increased incidence of flare up of the disease.

The results were also compared with the MRI scan. Patients with more flare-ups showed more lesions in the brain while the ones with improvement of disease showed reduction in the number of brain lesions.

In the stress management therapy, the patients were taught to look for positivity in life, to cope up with stress, to find solutions to problems, etc. and positive events in life like birth of a baby, weddings, etc. were also found to improve the condition of the patients.

The negative stress stimuli included death of a known person, physical abuse of the patient, cheating by the partner, etc. and all these stress factors led to worsening of the disease. So, it was concluded that stress leads to worsening of multiple sclerosis while stress management and positive events in life help in reducing the symptoms and makes the prognosis better.

Other factors that can lead to triggering of MS:

Heat. Direct exposure to heat can lead to worsening of the symptoms of MS. So the patient must avoid direct exposure to sunlight. The reason behind this is that- due to heat the body temperature increases and this leads to worsening of tingling sensations in the body. So the patient must stay in cool climate.

Deprivation From Sleep. Sleep is important for every one of us and especially more important for the people who have developed MS. One of the very important symptoms of MS is fatigue and weakness. When the patient doesn’t get enough sleep, he/she may become more weak and lethargic and will find it difficult to carry out activities.

Medications. The patient may think that the drugs given by doctor are ineffective because those drugs take time to act, so they stop taking the medicines on their own without consulting the doctor. This leads to worsening of the disease due to improper intake of the medications. So the treatment must be taken properly, regularly and on time.

Infections. Presence of other infections like urinary tract infections, respiratory tract infections, etc. leads to worsening of symptoms. These infections can also lead to severe flaring up of the disease because the immune response increases during infection, hence causing more damage to nerves.


Stress, either emotional or physical can lead to worsening of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. On the other hand proper management of stress with the help of stress management therapy largely helps in controlling the disease and preventing relapse of the disease. There is however no evidence showing that stress can act as causative factor for multiple sclerosis.

So the patients with MS must be given stress management therapy properly in order to get better results and early improvement of the patient.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 29, 2023

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