Living with Fibro

Fibromyalgia & Depression: Why so Blue?

There are many studies out there that show a link between depression and fibromyalgia.

In fact, some numbers state that individuals with the condition of fibro are around 3 times more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression when they are diagnosed than individuals who do not have the condition of fibro.

There are some researchers that believe depression causes changes in the chemistry of the brain.

On the other hand, some of the other researchers believe that an abnormality of the sympathetic nervous system is caused by depression.

The sympathetic nervous system is the area of your body that helps determine the ways that you handle emergencies and other stressful situations.

These abnormalities could be triggering the release of particular chemicals in the body that increase your sensitivity to pain.

The result of this is the condition of fibro with depression and chronic pain.

Taking the time to learn more about the link between depression and fibro can help you to seek the proper treatment from your physician- including, if necessary, speaking with your physician about possibly using antidepressants.

The truth of the matter is that once you determine the best way to treat your condition of fibro as well as surround yourself with supportive family and friends, you will be able to control your condition.

In addition, gaining control of your fibro can help you to get a handle on your depression- which leads to an improvement in the quality of your life.

Depression Defined

Sure, feelings of sadness are normal when you are struggling with things in life or when you lose someone/something you love.

On the other hand, depression is something that goes far beyond these feelings of sadness and can affect your entire life. Individuals who are depressed often experience the following:

  • Loss of pleasure
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feelings of hopelessness/helplessness
  • Lowered levels of energy
  • Thoughts/obsessions with death

These can cause interference in your normal, everyday life. As mentioned, depression goes beyond normal sadness and can last for several weeks at a time.

Most of the time, it is characterized as major/clinical depression. However, there are other types of depression, including chronic depression. Chronic depression includes: bipolar, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and dysthymia.

Fibromyalgia & Depression

Depression & Fibro Link

The stress related to the pain and fatigue of the condition of fibro can result in social isolation and anxiety.

The pain can cause you to give up doing activities you enjoy. These things together can cause you to become much more withdrawn/isolated- which can ultimately lead to depression.

Some researchers believe that depression and anxiety are signs and symptoms of fibro- just like the chronic, widespread pain.

Both depression and fibro can cause some significant interference with the way that you manage your activities.

Therefore, it is critical that you are willing to be honest with your physician regarding any signs and symptoms of depression you may be experiencing.

Do Fibro Sufferers Realize They Are Depressed?

Some individuals with chronic pain conditions such as fibro might be fully aware that they are experiencing depression.

On the other hand, others may not realize it- but they do realize that something is not right with them.

Following are the signs/symptoms of depression associated with chronic pain:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest
  • Sad/anxious mood
  • Decrease in energy levels
  • Feelings of irritability, guilt, or hopelessness
  • Uncontrollable crying

In extreme cases of depression, thoughts of suicide or death can occur.

Can Stress Increase Depression?

The stress of living with a chronic pain condition such as fibro can cause a person to go into what is known as “overload.”

This means that they end up having overwhelming feelings of anxiety and nervousness. However, what is not clear is whether the stress leads to the fibro or vice-versa.

However, it is known that no matter which one causes the other, stress can add to the problems.

When stress is increased, many individuals with the condition of fibro report an increase in their symptoms.

In addition, in some cases, a particularly severe stress event leads to the manifestation of the condition.

Depression and Chronic Pain Conditions

Of course, fibro is not the only chronic pain condition that is related to depression. Some research reveals that major depression in people with chronic pain conditions is 3-4 times greater than those who do not have chronic pain.

On the other hand, having major depression can increase your risk of developing a chronic pain condition. Research proves that individuals with depression report greater levels of pain.

Individuals with chronic pain conditions typically do isolate themselves and become depressed. They spend more time alone- away even from those that they love.

They become singly focused on their pain/suffering instead of focusing on their lives or the lives of those around them.

What if You Don’t Treat Your Fibro?

If you do not obtain treatment for your condition of fibro, you will most likely spiral downwards.

The fatigue and pain associated with fibro puts limitations on your exercise and other physical activities.

When you’re not active, your body weakens. This leads to social isolation, which can put strain on your relationships.

As time passes, and your symptoms continue or become worse, you may have difficulty working.

This means that you may lose your job- especially if you make lots of mistakes or miss a lot of days.

Losing your income increases your stress, which increases your depression, which increases your pain- it’s a never-ending cycle.

How to Ease Fibro-Related Depression

It is critical that you understand that the condition of fibro is much more than just tender points and deep, widespread pain.

This condition involved everything about you. However, even though there is no cure for the condition of fibro, there is good news: you can learn ways to manage your condition and therefore successfully treat your feelings of depression and anxiety.

Talk to your physician about ways that you can deal with these feelings- and if necessary, ask for an antidepressant.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-and-depression

http://www.everydayhealth.com/fibromyalgia/fibromyalgia-and-depression-symptoms.aspx

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Living with Fibro

2 Comments

  • Well, it makes sense that the medical community feels split over whether the chemicals in the brain are creating depression or whether depression is affecting the chemicals in the brain. From my view, the two elements are contributing to each other, which may be one reason that, as you say, the spiral may continue on a downward path. Besides suffering “real-life” consequences like an inability to get enough exercise or participate in fun activities, the brain chemicals in a chronically-depressed person will make the person more depressed, and vice-versa.

    I’m glad you’re also bringing up emotions like overwhelm, because I think it also contributes to the problem.

    The best ideas I can think of are to make sure you choose your friends and gravitate toward the ones who seem light-hearted and easy, because moods are catching. Also, I know that meditation can help, at least during the time you’re meditating, and hopefully the peace and calm will spill out into your life a little bit each day.

    As I’ve said before, if you’re living with fibromyalgia, I salute your stamina and ability to handle it. I hope that as the medical community does more and more research, effective solutions will continue to emerge.

  • This is an important post because as with any illness or condition depression is always a risk. I feel depressed when my sciatica is bad and it takes a lot of willpower to tackle negative thoughts. I find that keeping a specific journal helps. In this journal I write down every day the positive things in my life (a good meal, a fun chat, a good book) and also the things I am grateful for ( a home, family, etc). I also write down what I’ve achieved that day (went running, cooked something new). I never, ever put down anything negative. I’ve been writing this for over two years and I can honestly say it helps to control negative thoughts and it helps to focus on positivity.

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