Fibromyalgia and depression often occur together, and that’s not a coincidence.
If you’re living with fibromyalgia, you are probably all too familiar with the pain. You may also feel isolated, alone, or like no one understands what you are going through.
Unfortunately, these combined effects can lead to mental health challenges, like depression or anxiety.
Indeed, people with fibromyalgia are more likely to develop major depressive disorder compared with the general population. Estimates suggest that
Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain and fatigue throughout your body.
Though there is no cure for the condition, you may find that treatments can effectively help keep symptoms under control.
Common symptoms associated with fibromyalgia include:
- memory, concentration, and thinking issues
- stiffness and pain across the body
- issues with sleep
- headaches, including migraines and other types
- depression and anxiety
The exact causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but researchers have some ideas of risk factors associated with it. Both advanced age and living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or lupus
Being assigned female at birth may also increase your chances of developing fibromyalgia.
If you’re living with fibromyalgia, you have a higher chance of developing certain mental conditions.
The Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) notes that about 20% of people living with fibromyalgia also develop depression. The
As a result, doctors should regularly screen those living with fibromyalgia for symptoms of depression.
Along with an increased risk of depression, an estimated
Many believe that the association between fibromyalgia and mental health conditions has to do with how individuals respond to various physical symptoms.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia that may
- increased pain intensity
- physical and mental strain
- impact on quality of life
- functional limitations
- number of tender points on the body
- sleep that is non-restorative
- cognitive symptoms
In their study, researchers cited that the similarities in the makeup of the two conditions, as well as treatment options, suggest they may be two symptoms of an underlying condition.
Current, similar research to the 2012 study does not appear to exist.
Another mental health concern for people living with fibromyalgia is suicide. This can include death by suicide, suicide ideation, and attempted suicide.
Finally, depression is not the only possible mental health condition you might experience when living with fibromyalgia. Other reported conditions include:
- bipolar disorder
- panic attack
- obsessive compulsive disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder
Whether you are living with fibromyalgia or a combination of fibromyalgia and depression, there are several potential treatment options to help you find relief. The following treatments can help treat both depression and fibromyalgia.
Antidepressants are a common form of treatment for both depression and fibromyalgia.
There are two types that work for fibromyalgia symptoms. They include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and combined serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
Counseling can help you learn to manage your symptoms, which can include coping strategies for both pain management and depression.
You may find it helpful to join a local group that specializes in fibromyalgia, depression, or both. A good source for finding a group or individual counseling session may be your healthcare team.
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of therapy designed to help you change how you make positive changes in how you think or act. The changes may help you better manage your depression symptoms.
Medication to treat pain
Though pain medication does not directly treat depression, treating the pain associated with fibromyalgia may help improve your mood.
Though it can be challenging, making small changes to your everyday life may help improve both your mood and fibromyalgia pain.
For example, the
By getting more physically active, you may also help improve your sleep. Improved sleep can help with improving both fibromyalgia as well as depression symptoms.
If you find that you need additional support, you might find that support groups may help.
You can reach out to your healthcare team for suggestions about groups located near you.
If you’re living with fibromyalgia and depression, you are not alone, even if it may feel that way at times. If you are struggling with where to start, here are a few suggestions:
- Contact your healthcare team, who can help connect you with local support groups, counseling options, or CBT providers that may help.
- Try to increase your physical activities, but talk to your doctor before starting a new, rigorous routine.