Getting out of the house to take part in everyday activities or spending time with friends and family can be a major challenge. Some find it increasingly difficult to work. As well as accepting the changes to everyday life, the process of diagnosis and treatment of the condition can be stressful in itself. For some, these restrictions and challenges, along with chronic pain, can lead to feelings of loneliness and ultimately depression.
In fact, fibromyalgia sufferers are three times more likely to suffer from depression at the time of their diagnosis, compared to non-sufferers. It is not known whether stress, anxiety and depression can cause chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia, or if the depression occurs as a result of the condition. However, those with fibromyalgia have been found to have lower levels of the hormone serotonin linked with depression.
According to WebMD.com ‘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.’ So it could be true that depression and anxiety are a part of fibromyalgia.
If you suspect that you, or someone that you know, may be suffering from depression here are some signs to look out for:
- Low energy levels
- Loss of interest in everyday activities
- Persistent feelings of sadness, guilt or worthlessness
- Uncontrollable tears and emotions
- Anxiety and irritability
- Weight loss or gain
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions
In some severe cases of depression thoughts of death and suicide may occur. If you think that you may be suffering with depression, it is very important to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss this with them. The pain of fibromyalgia and depression can be successfully treated. The course of treatment is multi-faceted and can include:
There are two kinds of anti-depressants used in the treatment of Fibromyalgia, serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and combined serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Although these are not effective at treating pain, they are sometimes used to treat fibromyalgia sufferers who are not suffering from depression.
Massage, meditation and mindfulness are all fantastic stress busting activities. Making some time for yourself for a massage can also help with deep muscle pain, and meditation and mindfulness can help relieve the stress which contributes to depression.
Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive therapy can be helpful with the pain and depression associated with fibromyalgia. The aim is to alter the way a patient thinks about and deals with pain. In altering a person’s behaviour and thinking patterns this in turn can help change the way that they deal with their condition.
Counselling is a form of therapy, and can take place on a one to one basis or in a group setting. Again, the aim is to help a patient learn new strategies for coping their pain and other associated problems such as depression and other symptoms. Group sessions can be very helpful, with people sharing experiences and ideas.
Healthy lifestyle habits
Making some simple lifestyle changes can have a great impact on the pain and depression associated with fibromyalgia. It is recommended to incorporate bedtime routines and routines in everyday life to manage tasks and no overdo things. Also regular exercise such as walking, yoga or swimming can really help with the symptoms of depression.
Have you suffered from depression as a result of Fibromyalgia? Or do you have friends or family who are suffering depression? We would love to hear your story. Tell us about your experiences by posting your comments below.
We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.