Fibromyalgia and Depression
Many studies link fibromyalgia and depression. In fact, about three out of every 10 people with fibromyalgia also have major depression at the time of their diagnosis.
Some researchers feel that depression leads to changes in brain chemistry. Others look at abnormalities of the sympathetic nervous system -- the part of the nervous system that determines how you handle stress and emergencies. These abnormalities, they contend, may lead to the release of substances that cause more sensitivity to pain. The result is fibromyalgia with its chronic pain and feelings of depression.
Learning more about the connection between fibromyalgia and depression can help you seek appropriate medical treatment from your doctor. That includes asking your doctor about antidepressants.
By following an appropriate fibromyalgia treatment plan and getting the support of family and friends, you can take control of your fibromyalgia. You can also get control over your symptoms of depression and improve your quality of life.
What Is Depression?
Sadness is a normal reaction to loss, life's struggles, or an injured self-esteem. Depression surpasses sadness and becomes a problem that affects your whole life. People who are depressed commonly experience:
- loss of pleasure in enjoyable activities
- weight loss or gain
- low energy
- feelings of guilt
- a sense of worthlessness
- thoughts about death
These thoughts, physical changes, and feelings interfere with daily life.
Depression that lasts for weeks at a time may be characterized as major or clinical depression. There are other types of depression. Common types include chronic depression -- known as dysthymia, bipolar depression, and seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
What Is the Link Between Fibromyalgia and Depression?
The stress from fibromyalgia's pain and fatigue can cause anxiety and social isolation. The chronic deep muscle and tender point pain can result in less activity. That causes you to become more withdrawn and can also lead to depression. It is also possible that anxiety and depression are part of fibromyalgia, just like the pain.
Depression and fibromyalgia can greatly interfere with the way you manage your activities at home or at work. So it is important to openly discuss any symptoms of depression you have with your doctors.
Do People With Fibromyalgia Know They're Depressed?
Some people with fibromyalgia and chronic pain may be aware they are depressed. Others may not be sure they are depressed. Nevertheless, they know something is wrong.
The signs of depression with chronic pain may include:
- decreased energy
- difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or irritability
- loss of interest in nearly all activities
- persistent sad or anxious mood
- uncontrollable tearfulness
In severe cases, depression with chronic pain can lead to thoughts of death or suicide.