Can stress bring on a relapse?


Can stress really bring on a relapse or does is just worsen old symptoms?

I’ve recently returned to work and it’s not going well at all. To cut a long story short, I am being bullied and since reporting it, the situation has got worse and I don’t know what to do. My employer seems to be doing everything right on paper and that’s about all they’re doing. I feel so low and upset that thoughts of suicide have even crept into my mind…I know I wouldn’t do this, as the thoughts have terrified me. I’ve got myself in such a state that I’m not eating and having difficulty sleeping. Since all this stress, my old symptoms have got worse and also developed new ones and now I’m getting even more stressed thinking I am relapsing again.

I don’t know what to do to help myself relax, I wish I could just think fuck it and forget about work when I’m not there, but not able to.

Just so upset with the way things have gone, I have known and worked with these people for years, always felt that I got along well with everyone. I just don’t know how people can be so cruel when I need their support.


Stress affects us all differently,but it is never a good thing.May I humbly suggest you see your GP as soon as possible and explain the situation.People react differently around MS,but some start wondering about how they would cope, and through their ignorance can start to blame the person with it for their psychological shortcomings.

Keep an eye on this place as there is usually something going on and there are people who have been/are in your situation

Good luck,



I always thought my worse relapse was due to stress, maybe it brought it on or made it worse i may never know.

But stress is a nasty thing to have, it hounds you when your trying to relax. I have found that people don’t know how to be with me. Yes iam ill but i don’t look it. I sometimes think it would be better if i was covered in bandages so atleast i look like something is wrong.

I have to echo what WB says about seeing your gp, if anything they can atleast point you in the right direction.

Take care


Thanks very much for your replies.

I have made an appointment to see my GP next week, but worried he will sign me off again, which won’t help me at all. Also made an appointment to see someone about the problems at work…feeling a bit stronger now and going to sort this situation out before it gets any worse, if that’s possible.

Thanks x

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No one knows for sure, but I can tell you my first episode and subsquent major relapses were stress related. Minor episodes and little things by comparison were as we would all expect but I can pinpoint each of the major relapses to a significant issue which was happening just a few weeks before.


Hi Anonymous

You are not alone.

I too am in a very difficult and stressful situation at work. Basically I’m on the last stage of the absence process and could lose my job due to ill-health. As I am not yet officially diagnosed (Neuro has told me he’s pretty much certain it’s MS - just need the LP) my employer won’t accept that I am covered under the equalities act and therefore have refused every reasonable adjustment I have requested. Again they have made sure they look good on paper but really they should be doing more to help me.

Instead, the pressure and stress they are putting me under has exacerbated mainly my sensory symptoms (patches of tingly skin/numbness and fatigue). My Neuro told me that stress can make symptoms worse as anxiety can sometimes mirror MS.

If you have a union then please get them involved as this may take some of the pressure off of you. If you don’t have a union then contact citizens advice for guidance.

You have mentioned that you reported the situation you are in and this has made things worse - could you clarify what you mean by this? Who did you report it to and is there anyone higher you can talk to?

I once made the mistake of reporting my line manager to her boss as this was what I was told to do if I was unhappy with the way she was managing my absence. During our discussion I felt she wasn’t really listening to me and it was only afterwards that I found out my line manager and her boss go on family holidays together!!! Needless to say she never took my complaints seriously.

Keep your chin up x

Hi I had some bereavements a while ago,I was so stressed out and that is when my symptoms started happening.I was diagnosed three years later,also I have had a lot of problems at work and had a relapse last year I am pretty sure stress was the reason why I had a relapse.From my own experience people at work are very insensitive to ms,especially if they cant see anything physical wrong with you.Keep your chin up and stay strong.I myself have got a lot of strength from this forum,as it seems loads of people have problems with work.Like they say a problem shared is a problem halved. Take care

Yes, I feel stress is a big factor, with me anyway, I can link stressful times in my life to relapses with my MS.

Our work, no matter how we may enjoy it, is often a difficult area, esspecially as MS can often be “invisible” to our work coleuges and fatigue be percieved as laziness and not being as sharp and on the ball with things, can be percieved as disinterested…I’ve been there.



There is certainly bullying that goes on because people are disabled. There are some horrible people out there, but lots of nice ones as well. I had a ‘friend’ imitating my walk and laughing a few years ago. It upset me for ages, because i assumed everyone was laughing at my funny walk. It was only while having counselling (for something else) that I realised (1) she had a bigger problem than me and (2) decent people look on with admiration when they see someone unlucky enough to have MS struggling on. Keep strong, remember most people will think it’s completely unacceptable to pick on someone with MS

Thanks for your replies. I think the stress is affecting me now and got loads of new symptoms, including numb face, tongue and throat, which has resulted in me dribbling…not an attractive look to have

Sorry to hear I’m not the only one having problems at work…if we haven’t got enough to deal with already.

Anonymous…I made the same mistake as you, reporting my Line Manager to her boss and also another colleague who was involved. I had no idea they were all so friendly outside of work and they have made work very unpleasant for me. I have a meeting tomorrow with someone higher up and just hoping they listen and take me seriously. Just feel to have lost my confidence through this. I really hope you can resolve your situation too, you sound to be going through a lot at the moment.


This sounds very familiar with me. Started working again in November and one manager in particular has picked on me since day one which has resulted in me spending the last 3 days in hospital die to not being able to swallow or see properly out of my left eye. I have been told to take a month of work. But I’m intended on finding a new job as have already made numerous complaints about him and it just keeps getting worse. James

Hi I absolutely, totally, one hundred per cent believe that the relapse that I have suffered for the last 6 months, was triggered by an immense amount of stress that I was put under by people who were allegedly friends !! Xx

Yes I agree, stress is a trigger, my MS nurse thinks I’m having a sensory relapse just now, and stress is a big factor in my life just now :frowning:

Jools X