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Mental Health Help with Multiple Sclerosis

As with many other situations in life, your attitude is essential when starting life with multiple sclerosis (MS). Feisty, determined, and stubborn are all good qualities to bring to the table. Making sure that you’re fighting the right battles is also important.

Because MS can’t be cured yet, winning the war against it isn’t possible. Thus, setting out to “beat this thing” can be a setup for feelings of failure if the disease progresses in spite of your best efforts. Mental health specialists with expertise in chronic illness can provide thoughtful and supportive input as you try to sort through your options.

They can be helpful for anyone who values an objective third ear because they understand and appreciate the complexities of the plans and decisions you’re trying to make at various points in your life. A variety of specialists are available in the mental health field. No matter what emotional challenges you’re having, you’re sure to find just the right professional to guide you.

Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are physicians with a mental health focus. They diagnose and treat emotional changes. In most states, psychiatrists are the only professionals in the mental health group that can prescribe medications. If a person who’s being treated by a psychologist, social worker, counselor, or other psychotherapist needs medication to stabilize his or her mental health, the therapist may refer that person to a psychiatrist.

Clinical psychologist

Even though some clinical psychologists do neuropsychological testing and cognitive remediation, their primary work in the clinical setting involves individual, group, and family counseling to help people sort out challenging issues or relationships in their personal and professional lives.

Social workers

Social workers, depending on their licensure and area of interest, wear two hats: They offer individual, group, and family counseling in a variety of settings, and some also have special expertise in case management. When wearing their case management hat, social workers help people identify and coordinate the community resources they need.

Counselors and marriage and family therapists

Like psychologists and social workers, counselors and marriage and family therapists provide counseling in a variety of settings. These professionals can help family members deal with the impact that a chronic illness like MS can have on family life.

Even though their training and licensure vary considerably, all of these mental health professionals can provide invaluable support for your efforts to live comfortably with MS. The National MS Society can refer you to therapists who are familiar with MS and the impact it can have on individuals and families who are living with its challenges.

Neuropsychologist

A neuropsychologist is a psychologist with special training and expertise in brain-behavior relationships. Clinical neuropsychologists assess, diagnose, and treat cognitive symptoms in people with MS. They evaluate a person’s cognitive strengths and deficits and use this information, along with information provided by other healthcare providers, to plan and implement treatment strategies.

Most insurance plans offer some coverage for cognitive evaluation, but coverage for the treatment of cognitive problems is spotty at best, so check it out carefully with your insurance plan.

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