Social Connections And Support Help Improve Mental Health Of MS Patients

Multiple Sclerosis can impact the mental health of people. To improve their overall well-being, along with the existing treatment, emotional regulation strategies also become need of the hour.

To address this, Researchers Katie Lancaster, Sarah J. Thomson, Nancy D. Chiaravalloti, and Helen M. Genova, tested the efficacy of an interpersonal emotion regulation intervention: this intervention seeks to improve mental health by teaching participants to use emotion regulation strategies that leverage social support (e.g., reaching out to others for comfort when experiencing a stressful event).

Poor mental health worsens and complicates clinical management of MS patients

More than one-third of MS patients (PwMS) experience poor mental health, which makes their physical symptoms worse and complicates clinical management.

It is not unexpected that patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) frequently have poor mental health given the long-lasting and gradually crippling nature of the disease.

Poor mental health in PwMS adversely affects daily living activities and quality of life, restricts engagement in productive work, and precludes prompt seeking and adherence to medical therapy.

In PwMS, mental health also deteriorates over time and may exacerbate physical and cognitive symptoms in a vicious cycle; this is worrisome because PwMS’s widespread economic and mobility hurdles can restrict access to conventional mental health services. Therefore, there is a definite need in this community for easily available and reasonably priced mental health interventions.

Lack of adequate emotion regulation, or the inability to manage one’s emotional responses, is a significant factor in PwMS’s poor mental health.

The effectiveness of a novel intervention protocol that instructs participants in using interpersonal emotion regulation (IER) using evidence-based methodologies was assessed in the current randomised control trial (RCT).

What is interpersonal emotion regulation (IER)?

When a person seeks out the support of others to better their emotional state, such as when they ask for guidance or support, look for affiliative physical touch, or share happy emotions with others, this is when IER is used. In the general population, IER has been shown to be quite beneficial; for example, just holding a loved one’s hand during a stressful scenario can reduce the neuroendocrine stress response and downregulate threat-related brain activity.

It has been proposed that IER is the mechanism explaining why social support is so powerfully predictive of health outcomes. IER is related to the idea of social support.

Strategies used for interpersonal emotion regulation for MS patients

The intervention study involved six one-on-one sessions delivered over the course of six weeks by a certified interventionist. The first and last visits were performed by participants in the lab; the remaining four sessions were conducted over the phone. The IER intervention is a skills-based training method that blends individual skill development with evidence-based education.

The idea of IER is explained to participants, along with the benefits it can have for MS recovery and how it works. It highlights the importance of social connections as essential and vital health-promoting practices that are fundamental to well-being. The intervention’s main objective is to provide participants with the tools they need to deal with momentary emotional difficulties. The interventionist collaborates with the participant to identify these ongoing emotional issues and create IER-based coping mechanisms during each session.

Examples of recommended solutions are taken from the scientific literature and include asking others for emotional support directly, avoiding one’s thoughts by engaging in social activities or looking for affiliative physical contact with a romantic partner. This is significant because it covers techniques that can be used even when social network resources are limited, like visualizing the presence of a supporting person, thinking back to a fun social memory, or being appreciative of close friends.

IER treatment significantly decreased the depression scores

At the post-test, participants who had received the IER intervention had considerably lower depression levels than control participants, who had not undergone the intervention. Additionally, exploratory treatment response analyses revealed that the individuals who reported using IER to share and enhance pleasant emotions the least at baseline had the biggest reductions in depression ratings.

The research concluded that interpersonal emotion regulation is beneficial in improving depression in PwMS. Consequently, these strategies can be implemented in conjunction with existing mental health treatments in a holistic approach to improving well-being.


Help is here:

Toll-Free Mental Health Rehabilitation Helpline Kiran (1800-599-0019)

Name of the Organisation: Indian Organization for Rare Diseases

(IORD) is an umbrella organization, representing the interests of all rare disease patients, patient support groups, health policy advocates, and health care providers extending support or working in the field of any of the undermentioned rare disease groups.


Contact: Email:,

Telephone: +91-9666438880

Name of the Organisation: Vandrevala Foundation

Vandrevala Foundation is a non-profit that partners with organizations to help communities thrive by providing education and healthcare. Vandrevala Foundation launched a mental health helpline in India in 2009 to offer free psychological counselling and crisis mediation to anyone who is experiencing distress due to depression, trauma, mood disorders, chronic illness, and relationship conflict.


Contact: Email:

Telephone: +91 9999 666 555

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