Fibromyalgia-Induced Depression

The comorbidity of fibromyalgia and depression is suggested in various studies. Three out of ten people with fibromyalgia are suffering from major depression at the time of their diagnosis.

It has been proposed that changes in brain chemistry result from depression. Some researchers suggest that  abnormalities of the sympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system responsible for regulating responses to stress and emergencies, lead to the release of substances which increase pain sensitivity. Thus the outcome is fibromyalgia with its chronic pain and depressed mood.

Understanding the relationship between fibromyalgia and depression will help patients with their choice of appropriate treatment. That includes asking for prescription for antidepressants.

Patients can have considerable control over fibromyalgia pain by following an appropriate fibromyalgia treatment plan and seeking the support of relatives and friends. Likewise, they can better improve their mental health and quality of life.

Understanding Depression

It is normal for a human to become sad in response to loss, difficult struggles in life or an injured self-esteem. A depression is a condition that exceeds sadness, which turns into a major problem that impacts one’s whole life. Common symptoms of depression are:

  • inability to experience pleasure from otherwise pleasurable activities
  • reduced or increased body weight
  • low energy
  • feeling guilty
  • low self-appreciation
  • tendency to commit suicide

These abnormal physical changes, feelings and behaviors affect the quality of life of depressed people and their ability to perform day-to-day tasks.

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A depression is classified as major or clinical depression when it lasts for weeks at a time. Psychologists classify depression into other categories. Other common types include bipolar depression, chronic depression (otherwise known as dysthymia), and seasonal depression (also known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD).

How does fibromyalgia cause depression?

Depressed WomanFibromyalgia and depression are correlated. Fibromyalgia-induced pain causes stress, which in turn causes anxiety and social isolation. Chronic deep muscle and trigger point pain can restrict one’s physical movements and activities. As a result, fibromyalgia sufferers may become socially-isolated and depressed. Possibly, depression and anxiety are inherently part of fibromyalgia, just like pain.

Depression and fibromyalgia can significantly disrupt sufferers’ daily activities in home or workplace. Fortunately, there are treatments for symptoms of depression and fibromyalgia. They come in proper combinations of medications, including antidepressants, cognitive behavioral therapy, alternative medicine, and lifestyle habits.  It is a must that patients disclose to their physicians any symptoms of depression.

How do people with fibromyalgia know if they are depressed?

Depression among people with fibromyalgia and chronic pain may be apparently recognized by patients themselves. But in some cases, patients cannot readily confirm the occurrence of depression, yet they know for sure that there is something wrong with their mental condition.

Common symptoms of mental depression are:

  • lower energy
  • inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • being guilty, irritable and hopeless
  • loss of interest in almost all things
  • being consistently sad or anxious
  • being uncontrollably tearful

Extreme cases of mental depression with chronic pain can cause patients to have thoughts of death or to commit suicide.

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How does stress affect depression in people with fibromyalgia?

Excruciating and chronic pain and relentless fatigue can definitely put a person into “overload”. This condition can cause high degree of nervousness and anxiety. To date, the correlation between a stressful life and fibromyalgia is not yet fully established.

Regardless which of the two causes the other, stress further complicates problems of irritability, anger, and distractibility among the depressed. In more serious cases, the condition causes further health problems like heart-related diseases and hypertension. Stress is often associated with higher degree of pain and fatigue. In some cases, severe stress befalls patients just before the onset of fibromyalgia.

How common is the co-occurrence of depression and chronic pain?

The comorbidity is common in all kinds of chronic pain such as neck pain, backache, headache, hip pain, shoulder pain and fibromyalgia-induced pain. For instance, the percentage of depression cases among people with low to chronic back pain is three to four times higher than that in general population.

Likewise, the risk to develop chronic pain is also higher among people with depressive disorder. Depressed people experience greater pain than do normal counterparts. The depressed tend to have greater hindrance from pain and display more pain behaviors than do patients with no behavioral disorder.

Chronic pain can cause social isolation, which in turn can lead to depression. Isolated people interact less even with their relatives, friends and loved ones. Rather than pay attention to their personal lives or lives of their loved ones, depressed people become more preoccupied with their pain and suffering. This condition is aggravated by the frustration resulting from repeated appointments with physicians and the high cost that comes with it.

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What are the complications of untreated fibromyalgia?

People with untreated fibromyalgia may find themselves descending into pain spiral. Chronic pain greatly restricts physical activities and the ability to exercise. As a result, the body becomes weaker. Personal relationships are negatively affected as well. Patients find themselves struggling against feelings of isolation, loneliness, suspiciousness and fear.

Untreated fibromyalgia may eventually cause problems with work. Patients will find it more difficult to perform their tasks. Error rates are likely to increase owing to inability to concentrate. Stress will definitively worsen should a patient loss his job. These problems may soon affect personal relationships. The bottom line is that the longer chronic pain goes untreated, the more likely patient will experience stress-related symptoms.

Can fibromyalgia-induced depression be cured?

Fibromyalgia is more than a muscular pain. The effects of fibromyalgia encompass both physical and psychological realms, affecting not only the physical sensation but one’s feelings, attitude, emotions, interpersonal relationships and ability to respond to stress.

There is no cure yet for fibromyalgia and mental depression. Nonetheless, existing multifaceted remedies are proven to be effective. Drugs, cognitive therapy, and lifestyle habits are among the effective treatment options available.

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2 Responses

  1. Samantha says:

    My friend actually had that before, and he was an athlete….it was quite a mess.

  2. George says:

    I find that working out when I’m depressed really improves things.

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