Staying Smart

Staying Smart is for people who want to learn more about how MS can affect thinking. Not everyone with MS will experience cognitive difficulties. But for those who do, information can be hard to find.

"Cognition" is the general word that covers all aspects of thinking. It includes memory, concentration and planning.

Cognition problems in everyday life generally fall into one of six types of problem. You can work out which type of thinking is tricky for you, and get the right tips and advice by clicking on one of the everyday problems below. Each tile links to information that is helpful for that type of problem.

What else could be affecting my thinking and memory?

There are a number of outside factors that might make your mental skills less efficient:

  • Having an infection, or being otherwise unwell.
  • Some drugs given for MS symptoms, such as bladder issues or spasticity can affect your cognition.
  • Fatigue has been shown to affect mental skills in MS, particularly cognitive fatigue. You may find it helps to vary your mental tasks and take breaks.
  • Anxiety may affect your mental performance, especially if you are "on the spot" and feeling tense.
  • Depression in MS reduces performance on cognitive tasks that need a lot of concentration. Worries and intrusive thoughts can take up your mental capacity. If you think that you may be suffering from low mood or depression, seek medical advice.

Clinical Psychologist Eleanor Ansell explains more about external influences on your thinking and memory skills in the film below. Read the full cognitive problems interview.

Helping you find the information you need

If you have questions about any aspect of MS, contact our MS helpline. It is available from Monday to Friday (except UK bank holidays) from 10am to 4pm. Outside these hours you can leave us a message and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.