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Stress Management May Prevent MS Brain Lesions

Multiple Sclerosis Patients Had Fewer New Brain Lesions During Treatment
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'Focus on What You Can Control'

Mohr says the study was not large enough to prove that stress management therapy reduces MS symptoms.

"We don't know yet if this intervention translates into the clinical differences that are important to patients," he tells WebMD.

Diagnosed with MS in 2001, Michelle Clos doesn't need to wait for a bigger study.

Clos has practiced stress management for years and she now teaches strategies for coping with stress to other MS patients.

"When I was diagnosed, my doctor advised me to avoid stress, but gave me no tools to help me do that," she tells WebMD. "At first I tried to do everything, including working 60 hours a week to climb that corporate ladder. It took me about two years of feeling pretty terrible to recognize that I had to do things differently."

With the help of behavioral therapy, exercise, and meditation, Clos learned to focus on the things she could control and let everything else go.

"It wasn't easy," she says. "By nature I am an anxious person, but when I learned to let the worry go I began to feel better."

Psychologist and National MS Society spokesman Nicholas LaRocca, PhD, says patients need resources to help them deal with the stresses they face.

"Learning to deal with stress is important for all of us, and it is particularly important for people who have extra stress because of an MS diagnosis," he says.

LaRocca says although it remains to be seen if reducing stress can actually slow disease progression, it is clear that stress management can improve quality of life for patients with MS.

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