If you or someone you love have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis you may have noticed that it is harder to interact in social groups. This can be put down to a variety of causes; from the range of MS symptoms, such as fatigue and depression, to just learning how to cope with the diagnosis of your condition and how it may affect the rest of your life. But research has shown social cognition impairment could be a symptom of MS.
Social cognition is a term used to describe how we interact with and process information about other people. Without knowing it, we spend a great deal of time when interacting with new or familiar people collecting information about them and processing it. We look at how they behave, how they dress and take in their overall appearance without being conscious of it. We also assess how they speak; their accent, tone of voice and what they are talking about.
Our brain subconsciously uses this information to come to a judgement on how we feel about that person and how we act towards them. This reaction can be barely noticeable at times and more so at others; you may see a close family member or friend who says they are fine but you can tell they are tired or upset so change your behaviour appropriately to comfort them or console them. Or you could be meeting a new person and not be sure about them, without being able to put your finger on why. The more time you spend with someone, the more you add to their ‘file’ in your brain, gathering information that you may draw on at a later date.
Social Cognition and MS
Ms is a condition that affects the central nervous symptom, presenting a range of symptoms depending on the location and severity of the lesions. It is known that MS can cause confusion, cognitive dysfunction and depression, so a group of researchers in Germany set about seeing whether or not MS can directly affect social cognition.
The researchers studied a cohort of 90 people, having them watch a special movie designed to assess their social cognition. 45 of the people had MS, with a control group of 45 patients who did not have MS.
The study found that the group with MS showed significant impairment of social cognition compared to the control group, and that cognitive function (verbal memory and the ability to carry out everyday problem solving and planning) was mildly impaired. Most significantly, people with MS who did not demonstrate cognitive dysfunction still demonstrated some level of impaired social cognition.
What Can You Do?
This research may come as a relief for many people with MS who don’t have problems with cognitive function but are struggling in social situations. If you have MS it may give you reassurance to know that this is a natural symptom of your condition and make it easier for you to accept and cope with it. If you find that you struggle in social groups then try to stick to low stress familiar groups where you feel comfortable. Talking to your friends and family can also help to alleviate the stress and anxiety that you may feel in some situations.
At CCSVI Mexico we believe that in most MS cases the lesions are caused by a condition called CCSVI, where the veins leaving the central nervous system are narrowed, causing blood to seep out of the veins and leaving iron deposits in the surrounding tissue, similar to the lesions typical in MS. It is believed that around 90% of MS cases could be caused by CCSVI which is treatable using the liberation method, using balloon angioplasty to widen the veins and restore blood flow from the central nervous system.
If you have Ms and would like to know more about the procedures we use to diagnose CCSVI and treat your condition then contact us today.