Straight from the headlines, CBT improves fatigue in MSers

I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV. Please consult with a real one if you are interested in the diet/lifestyle changes outlined below.

I recently read an interesting article that hit the headlines recently, one about how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or, CBT) improves fatigue for MSers. This came out of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) annual meeting that took place early June.

Raise your hand if fatigue is a symptom you live with on a regular basis (you can’t see it but my hand is in the air!). It stinks, right? And, as if that’s not enough, it’s been reported more than half of us deal with sleep disturbances, which then may lead to depression.1

Often the fatigue I experience feels like I’ve hit a brick wall, giving me absolutely no energy to move on to do even the simplest of things – cleaning dishes, walking up the stairs, running out to the store for milk. It’s so unbelievably frustrating as it is my nature to get up and do stuff. That’s the reason why I found this article interesting: “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Improves Fatigue in MS Patients” by Pauline Anderson.

Here’s the backstory. The article was written up about a small study of MSers (only 11), which studied depression, fatigue and insomnia before and after some CBT treatment. Researchers monitored all kinds of things related to sleep and the participants self-reported using scaling techniques, indexing and questionnaires.

The CBT treatment included:

  1. Stimulus control – going to bed when actually tired, using the bed only for sleep and sex, following a routine when rising (e.g. get up every day at the same time)
  2. Sleep hygiene – limiting use of stimulants, including caffeine and no technology while in bed
  3. Relaxation training
  4. Cognitive therapy

The good news? MSers in the study reported improvements after applying CBT. They reported an increase in sleep time, a reduction in fatigue and a reduction in depression. The not so good news? All participants continued with clinical levels of fatigue. Also, it seems no confirmation could be made about which comes first, fatigue or depression. One thing that surfaced, however, is that CBT is good for both.

I don’t know about you but I will take any suggestions for decreasing fatigue. I feel like this study, although based on less than a dozen MSers, provides some evidence of what we kind of know already – get some uninterrupted sleep! Plus, adding some kind of CBT to our daily routine certainly seems like a viable option and worth looking into with your doctor and/or neurologist.

For me personally, I am pretty strict about my sleeping patterns. I go to sleep and get up around the same times every day. Sometimes my sleep is restless. In the event that I suspect I’ll need a solid night’s sleep (like the night before a presentation with the CEO), I might take a natural sleeping aid (think melatonin). Further, I limit caffeine use to just the morning and I don’t take my smartphone to bed with me at night. Certainly there are other habits I’d love to limit and this includes falling asleep on the couch while watching TV. The couch is meant for sitting yet I often find myself laying down and using it for sleep. Not the best habit but it is super relaxing.

How about you? What tips do you have in getting a good night’s sleep? Have you ever tried the Cognitive Behavior Therapy techniques featured above? We’d love to hear about your experiences.

For the full report on the CBT study, please go (here).

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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