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Fibromyalgia and Depression

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Does Stress Increase Depression With Fibromyalgia?

The stress of living with chronic pain and relentless fatigue can put a person into "overload." That can result in overwhelming feelings of nervousness and anxiety. What isn't clear is whether a stressful life brings about the fibromyalgia or if having fibromyalgia leads to stress.

No matter which comes first, stress adds to problems of anger, distractibility, and irritability. Most patients feel worsening of pain and fatigue when they have more stress. Sometimes, severe stress occurs just before the disease starts.

 

Is Depression Common With Chronic Pain Conditions?

Feelings of depression are common with all types of chronic pain, including headache, back and neck pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, and the pain of fibromyalgia. For example, the prevalence of major depression in people with chronic low back pain is three to four times greater than in the general population.

By the same token, having a depressive disorder also increases the risk of developing chronic pain. Patients who are depressed have greater pain. They describe greater hindrance from pain and display more pain behaviors than pain patients who are not depressed.

People with chronic pain such as fibromyalgia often become depressed and isolated. As a result, they spend more time away from other people, even people they love, such as family and friends. Instead of focusing on their personal lives or the lives of their loved ones, they become increasingly focused on their pain and suffering, which is very real. Adding to the frustration are the repeated appointments with health care providers to try to find relief and the resulting costs.

What Happens When Fibromyalgia Goes Untreated?

If you avoid treating fibromyalgia, you may descend into a spiral. The chronic pain and fatigue limits your physical activities and exercise. That, in turn, weakens your body. You may begin to feel isolated, fearful, suspicious, lonely, and afraid, which can strain relationships.

As time goes on and your symptoms continue, you may have trouble keeping your job. Doing so can be especially difficult if you have many absences or errors because of your symptoms such as fatigue, concentration problems, and pain. If your income is lost, you will have more stress. The longer your chronic pain and other symptoms continue without relief, the more likely you will be to experience stress-related symptoms.

Are There Ways to Ease Depression With Fibromyalgia?

It's important to understand that fibromyalgia is more than the deep muscle pain and tender points you feel. It encompasses everything about you -- your feelings, emotions, and attitude; the way you respond to stress; and the way you communicate with others.

The good news is, though, that while there is no cure, the fibromyalgia pain and feelings of depression can be successfully treated. 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on April 02, 2014
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