How SPMS Can Affect Your Relationships

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Catherine Rogers
Oftentimes, when patients are diagnosed with secondary-progressive MS, it can affect their self-image, and they can grieve over the loss of their former self. And by that, I just mean the loss of the person they were when they were healthy and before they had this illness. Also, people can feel a lot of guilt after the diagnosis because they might be worried that they can't be there for their friends and families in the same ways as they were in the past.

A diagnosis of secondary-progressive MS can certainly affect relationships with spouses or partners. One, there can be a change in the roles. Your spouse might actually have to be your caregiver now, and that can be really tough, to change that dynamic. This diagnosis can affect people's sexual functioning. That could affect just sexual desire or also performance issues.

As a parent's disease progresses, it affects the kids. The parent might not be able to attend outings or sporting events, go to concerts with the kids. So the kids can pick up on that and can feel rejected sometimes or worried about their parent.

We know that children of patients with secondary-progressive MS are at risk for depression and anxiety. So we think getting those children into counseling early is really important, to provide them the resources they need to cope with their parent's illness, too.