Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Coping With The Diagnosis

You or someone close to you has just been newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This unwelcome news can be overwhelming and it is normal to feel a wide range of feelings. There is no one right way to cope with this news and no one will react to the disease in exactly the same way or face exactly the same challenges.

Initially a diagnosis of MS may produce shock, disbelief, anger, fear, and denial – all of which are normal, predictable reactions to this kind of difficult news. Denial can be a very useful and effective coping strategy during the early days of a chronic illness – allowing a person to take a brief “time out” before beginning to deal with the realities of MS. However, denial that goes on for weeks or months can also get in the way of important treatment decisions and self-care strategies.

Whether you or someone close to you was diagnosed, MS can represent a very real and complex life change. It may be unrealistic to expect that you’ll accept the diagnosis right away, or all of the time. If possible, try to find small ways of adapting to the presence of MS in your life. Being adaptable does not mean giving up your plans, priorities, or goals. It means finding what works for you so that your life is as enjoyable and full as possible, even with the changes that MS may bring.

Each person is going to react in his or her own way to the diagnosis. Remember that there is help available if any of the feelings become unmanageable or too uncomfortable. The MS Society of Canada offers a variety of information and support services.