Art Helps People with MS Cope with Stress, Isolation and Depression

For a person living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), obtaining optimum wellness is more than just treating the disease. It is also important to focus on emotional well-being. This includes having satisfying personal relationships and fulfilling work and leisure activities, such as art.
Managing chronic diseases like MS can be stressful and overwhelming. Although the exact relationship between stress and the onset or progression of MS remains unclear, too much stress doesn’t make anyone feel better. Furthermore, physical changes brought on by the disease can result in isolation and depression, which is common among people with MS.
To help individuals cope with stress, isolation and depression, unique programming has been developed specifically for those with MS with guidance from the National MS Society. One such program is the MS Therapeutic Art Class at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network. Each week participants in various stages of MS gather to express themselves in diverse forms of art media including watercolor, collage, acrylic paints, charcoal and pastels. Brett Weber, PhD, an impressionist artist who has MS, co-leads the class with other artists to provide art education, techniques, ideas and encouragement to class participants.
Engaging in art as a creative outlet can have cathartic effects. Art helps individuals express their feelings of depression, loss, grief and anger in a positive way. Creating art projects can help build confidence. In addition art helps individuals stay busy and keeps their mind off worries.
In a class setting, art allows students to bond in their shared experience and remedies isolation. Sharing personal stories and discussing meanings represented in art projects help participants realize that they are not alone.
The MS Therapeutic Art Class at Good Shepherd welcomes people with disabilities and can adapt art tools and work spaces to fit individual needs. Each art class program, which runs 8 to 10 weeks long, offers different topics and techniques. For more information about the art program, please call 610-778-9303.
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