Stress takes a heavy toll on otherwise healthy individuals. But when multiple sclerosis patients encounter stressful life events, their symptoms seem to grow worse, according to a study.
Dutch researchers followed 73 patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, which is a form of the disease in which there are sporadic attacks that produce new symptoms or more severe existing symptoms.
Researchers met with the patients every eight weeks, and additional visits were arranged when patients reported symptoms of infection or exacerbation of symptoms. Each week, patients recorded any stressful events that were not related to multiple sclerosis, including job stress, financial problems, or death of a close family member.
The study found that stress was associated with double the risk of an exacerbation, but there was no evidence of an increase in infections after stressful events.
The researchers said the findings aren’t fully understood, but they said patients and caregivers should be aware of the potential effects of stress on multiple sclerosis.