Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition which causes widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue, so it’s no wonder that there are a number of mental health conditions associated with the condition. There is a strong link between fibromyalgia and feelings of depression and anxiety, so it’s not uncommon for sufferers to be prescribed antidepressants in order to help them to manage their condition. But how exactly can mental health be affected by fibromyalgia and what can be done to manage it?
How Does Fibromyalgia Affect Mental Health?
As a hugely debilitating condition, fibromyalgia can have a dramatic impact on mental health. In fact, fibromyalgia sufferers are three times more likely to suffer from feelings of depression than the general population. However, it’s not yet been determined whether the condition causes depression, if it’s just another symptom of the disease, or whether those who suffer from fibromyalgia are more susceptible to the mental health condition as a result of their pain.
Suffering from mental health problems alongside a hugely painful and debilitating condition can have a huge impact on a sufferer’s quality of life, making it difficult to carry out every day tasks, leading to a loss of enjoyment in life.
Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:
- Loss of motivation
- No longer enjoying your favourite activities
- Low energy
- Low mood
- Low self esteem
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling tearful or easily upset
- Having thoughts of harming yourself
If you think you might be suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, it’s important to talk to your GP, who will be able to offer advice on how to manage your mental health alongside your fibromyalgia.
How to Look After Your Mental Health With Fibromyalgia
When it comes to managing your mental health with fibromyalgia, there are a number of different techniques, both medicinal and holistic, including:
- Change in diet
Although it can be difficult to motivate yourself to even get out of bed in the morning when you’re suffering from depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia, some of the best management techniques for all three conditions include some form of movement.
Whether you do ten minutes of stretching, take yourself for a gentle stroll, or do a yoga class, just a little bit of movement each morning will boost your mood, increase your energy and reduce your anxiety. This is due to the feel-good endorphins which are released during exercise, helping to lower your stress levels and put you in a better mood. Additionally, exercise may help to take your mind off your pain or worries, alleviating some feelings of anxiety and depression.
Another great way to alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety is meditation. Having grown in popularity in recent years, people often use meditation as a tool to help relieve stress and improve their mental health. Just 10 minutes each day can help you to relax (easing some of your fibromyalgia pain), reduce your cortisol levels and decrease feelings of anxiety.
However, if you’re really suffering with your mental health, then it’s important to talk to your GP and come up with an action plan to help you to manage it. From prescribing antidepressants to referring you to therapy, such as counselling or CBT, there are a huge number of different options available to help you to cope with fibromyalgia and poor mental health.
Antidepressants are commonly prescribed to fibromyalgia patients as they’re thought to help with pain alleviation, as well as boosting serotonin levels in the brain, so if you’re feeling like you’re unable to cope, antidepressants might be the first step towards improving your mental health.
So if you feel like you’ve lost interest in your usual activities, you’re suffering from low mood, irritability and anxiety, then you might be suffering from depression. It’s important to remember that it’s extremely common for fibromyalgia sufferers to struggle with their mental health and there are plenty of treatments out there to help. First and foremost, it’s important to ensure you’re looking after yourself, as well as seeking help from a trained professional in order to help you to improve your mental health and get you back to feeling more like yourself again.
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