Depression & Anxiety – The Fibromyalgia Connection


As Fibromyalgia (FM) sufferers we are often made to feel like our pain is "all in your head", but research has consistently proved that Fibromyalgia is not a form of depression or hypochondria. IT IS REAL! However, there is a connection between FM and other chronic pain conditions to depression and anxiety. Treatment is important because both can make FM fear and interfere with symptom management.

There is some debate by medical and mental professionals about what causes what. The "What came first? The chicken or the egg" debate translates into "What came first? The chronic pain or the depression?" TRUE Fibromyalgia experts, researchers and others know that the chronic pain of FM & overlapping conditions leads to depression and anxiety.

Fibromyalgia is a common condition in which a person sufferers from chronic musculoskeletal pain. There are points called tender points, sometimes all over the body, and these tender and painful points are used as part of the diagnosis of FM. Individuals with FM may also be more susceptible to pain in general. Whenever the tender points are simply touched, they can send sharp pain impulses. Many Fibromyalgia sufferers experience pain all over and some experience pain only in specific regions. It can involve the muscles and the joints. Sometimes, there is so much pain that it is hard to pinpoint exactly where the pain originates. Fibromyalgia is often accompanied by other overlapping conditions such as chronic myofascial pain (CMP), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), restless legs syndrome (RLS), migraine & tension headaches, interstitial cystitis (IC), mitral valve prolapse (MVP), cognitive dysfunction, depression, anxiety and more. The symptoms of Fibromyalgia, alone, are wide-ranging and debilitating. Do they really think that depression and anxiety is the reason for ALL of the above?

Depression is a mental illness characterized by feelings of profound sadness and lack of interest in enjoyable activities. It is a constant low mood that interferes with the ability to function and appreciate things in life. It may cause a wide range of symptoms, both physical and emotional. It can last for weeks, months, or years. People with depression rarely recover without treatment and if you have Fibromyalgia, you may have to fight it for the rest of your life.

Anxiety is a normal state of apprehension, tension, and uneasiness in response to a real or perceived threat. Although anxiety is considered a normal response to temporary periods of stress or uncertain situations, prolonged, intense, periods of anxiety may indicate an anxiety disorder. Other indicators of an anxiety disorder are anxiety that occurs without an external threat and anxiety that impairs daily functioning.

What can cause depression & anxiety? Stressful life events, chronic stress, low self-esteem, imbalances in brain chemicals and hormones, lack of control over circumstances (helplessness and helplessness), negative thought patterns and beliefs, chronic pain, chronic physical or mental illness, including thyroid disease & headaches can ALL cause both. Little or no social and familial support can be a major factor in depression for FM patients. Family history of depression & anxiety can also be a factor.

Lack of quality sleep is also believed to have an influence on depression. Since FM & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients tend to have insomnia and / or other sleep disorders, it stands to reason that poor sleep can lead to depression.

There is a wide variety of medications, vitamins, minerals, herbs and therapies that can help ease the impact of pain, anxiety and depression. With so many out there, you and your doctor may have to go through the process of trial and error to find what works best for you!

Exercise is not only good for FM, it is also highly beneficial for depression and anxiety. Recent studies suggest exercise can change your brain chemistry. Exercising can boost your level of serotonin, a brain chemical that is effects mood and pain perception. It can also stimulate the production of endorphins, natural painkillers that can give you an overall feeling of well-being.

Exercise is a great for stress, too. It relieves muscle tension and it gets the heart rate up. The combination makes us more relaxed and alert, which helps us deal with our problems in a calmer and more controlled way.

There are several other methods you can use to combat stress, including: meditation, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, mental imagery relaxation, relaxation to music, biofeedback, counseling – to help you recognize and release stress.

You can learn about this topic, medications, supplements, alternative therapies and more at my website AND I will be writing more articles – so check back here!