Research: Stress Management

Epub ahead of printArtemiadis et al. Stress Management and Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2012 Apr 3.

Background: There is a well-established adverse relationship between stress and MS. However, stress management in MSers has been parsimoniously studied. 

Methods: In this parallel randomized controlled trial, relapsing-remitting MSers were randomly assigned to undergo either an 8-week stress management program (n = 31; relaxation breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, twice a day) or not (n = 30). Self-reported validated measures were used to evaluate perceived stress, health locus of control, anxiety, and depression. Daily diaries of MS symptoms were also kept by MSers. 

Results: In MSers in the intervention group, perceived stress and symptoms of depression were significantly decreased after 8 weeks of relaxation. Repeated measures analyses showed significant group-by-time interactions for both the number of weekly symptoms and the mean intensity per symptom. No other significant change was reported. 

Conclusions: The researchers deemed the results should encourage future studies that will incorporate more objective clinical and laboratory outcomes.

“Soft science is what I call this study! As a scientist I am sceptical about the methods and definitions used to define stress. Stress can be defined physiologically by the bodies output of specific hormones including cortisol. This study should have started by narrowly defining stress, preferably using a biological definition that is objective. Despite this I know how I feel when I my perceived stress levels are very high and I have an idea on how to reduce them. So there may be something in this story. There is reasonable evidence that stress may exacerbate existing MS symptoms and may contribute to the triggering of relapses. I say this knowing the effect is quite small.”

One thought on “Research: Stress Management”

  1. I am a firm believer that stress exacerbates my symptons too. This is one of the reasons why I have opted to try low dose naltrexone as an 'add-on' to my usual medication.LDN doesn't do anything for my disease progression, granted, but the increased endorphine levels I have makes me an awful lot less stressed.Food for thought?

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