Fibromyalgia and depression

Why are the two so often linked to each other? 

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that touches an estimate of 5 million people in the United States only. Women representing between 80 to 90% of the patients. It manifests through an intense and widespread musculoskeletal pain, as well as other symptoms such as cognitive issues, extreme fatigue, migraines, exaggerated sensibility to pain (hyperalgesia), skin sensitivity (allodynia), and more. Fibromyalgia generally also comes with psychologic disorders such as anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation and depression

Depression can be considered both a factor and a symptom of fibromyalgia. This means depressive state could increase the chances of developing fibromyalgia; while it also means patients affected by the condition are more likely to fall into depression, with time. The insufficient knowledge and acceptance of Chronic Pain conditions by physicians, family members and friends has always been a mountain to climb for Fibromyalgia patients, and usually worsen the person’s desperation. 

Educating yourself on depression and its link to fibromyalgia is the first step in the right direction to help yourself or your loved ones to battle with the condition. A number of physicians will directly guide you towards anti-depressant medication, which should not be the first choice to fight depression. Understanding where the issue is coming from, and trying to work on yourself is definitively a healthier direction to take. Relaxation, meditation, therapy, sports… one of them isn’t better than the other one: listen to your body and let it tell you what it needs. Help from friends and family will definitely add a stone on the remission road. 

Remember that understanding the initial causes of depression, and get help to move forward will have an impact on your fibromyalgia’s symptoms too, and can help improve your quality of life, much more than you would imagine. 

To be able to treat fibromyalgia, it is important to understand the condition. It is important to not focus the treatment only on pain. It is important to understand it is not only a chronic pain condition, but also a “true biopsychosocial disorder” as mentioned by Rakesh Jain, associate clinical professor at the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas Medical School. “Pain is one manifestation of this disease [he continues]. In the past, fibromyalgia treatment was limited to rheumatologists because we saw it as an inflammatory disorder. But now, with improved understanding, it belongs to primary care and to psychiatry. Everybody’s pulled in because the disorder is multifaceted and requires the talents and expertise of multiple specialties.” 

I fact, a multi-disciplinary approach that touches all aspects of the condition is currently the treatment of choice for fibromyalgia. Getting the pain under control while finding the root of the psychological problem, and working on a physical therapy for your body’s rehabilitation process will demonstrate great improvements of your every day’s life. 

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