Having multiple sclerosis in your life can be difficult to deal with, whether it is you that has the diagnosis or a friend or family member. If you have noticed that your mood is low or you are struggling with negative feelings, there are several different kinds of therapy that can help. Psychological therapies (sometimes called talking therapies or psychotherapy) encourage you to challenge negative feelings. Psychology is the study of the human mind and emotions.
Psychological therapists might help you make changes or understand your choices in how you deal with MS and the effects it has on your life.
There is good evidence that these approaches can help treat stress, anxiety and depression and have a role in managing pain and other symptoms. Using psychological therapies does not mean that the problems you are experiencing are 'all in your mind', but it does acknowledge that you can use psychology to help cope with MS. Psychological therapies may take time and repeated sessions to see an impact.
This page describes the difference between some of the different kinds of talking therapy, so you can decide which one sounds most appropriate for you. Links in each paragraph will take you to more detailed information about each type of therapy.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
CBT is based on the belief that how we think about a situation influences how we act, and our actions subsequently influence how we think and feel. It uses simple behavioural techniques to help you learn new ways of thinking. In a sense, CBT helps you to break negative habits of thought and to set up healthier thought patterns.
Mindfulness is a meditative technique that involves learning to focus attention on your emotions, sensations and thoughts in an accepting and non-judgemental way. It can help you separate your actual symptoms and experience from the negative emotional thoughts you have about your MS, and reconnect with pleasurable thoughts and feelings that might have become overwhelmed.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
ACT helps people to acknowledge negative thoughts and feelings as normal and to find ways to manage them. It can help you out of a negative spiral to focus on taking positive ways to take control of your life.
Counselling involves talking to a trained therapist about your problems and concerns and can involve exploring how those concerns might have come to pass, and ways to manage difficult situations.