Deciding who and when to tell about your MS

When it comes to deciding which friends and family to tell about your MS and when to tell them, there are no hard and fast rules. Let your instincts and feelings guide you. In general, there are a few things you should consider when you are deciding whether and when to tell a friend or family member about your MS:

  • your reasons for wanting to tell them
  • the possible advantages and disadvantages of telling them
  • whether this is the best time to tell them
  • whether they will be able to respect your wishes for confidentiality
  • what their reactions are likely to be and how you will handle them

Deciding when to tell your children can be difficult. This is an individual decision, but it's important to know that even very young children can be told in an age-appropriate way, and the truth may even be less frightening than what they have been imagining. For more information, see "Talking to your child about MS."

Choosing the right time to tell a dating partner about MS can also be a challenge. Judge the timing carefully, based on how your relationship is progressing. You don't need to tell everyone you date, but if a relationship is getting serious, don't leave it so late that it could threaten your developing trust.

When you have MS, there are some people that you must tell, such as your health or disability insurance plan. You should also let health care providers involved in your care know that you have MS.

Legally, you are not required to tell your employer you have MS unless you need medical leave or time off because of your MS, or you need workplace accommodations (changes to your working conditions or responsibilities that allow you to continue doing your job).

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