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Relationship Issues Accompany Fibromyalgia

Relationship Issues Accompany Fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by a chronic feeling of discomfort or pain in muscles throughout the body.

The syndrome affects 5.8 million Americans and does not have a known cause.

A new study investigates how the effects of the syndrome extend beyond physical maladies stressing emotions and relationships.

Researchers from the University of Missouri specifically examined how the diagnosis of fibromyalgia can affect marriages. Initial findings reveal that diagnosed spouses have considerably higher levels of depressive symptoms and pain and report more marital instability and anger than their spouses.

For both spouses, the symptoms can trigger increased emotional withdrawal and mental strain.

“Preliminary research suggests that fibromyalgia is very hard on both spouses because their lives are changed dramatically,” said Christine Proulx, assistant professor of human development and family studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.

“There appears to be a strong link between fibromyalgia and feelings of depression and fatigue, which can be debilitating for those diagnosed and their marriages. The mental strain felt by both spouses can negatively affect marital quality.”

Proulx found that individuals with fibromyalgia were almost three times more depressed than their spouses.

The diagnosed spouses reported higher levels of marital instability and more marital anger, indicating they were more likely to consider divorce than their spouses. The healthy spouses reported that it was difficult to watch their spouses experience pain.

“Both spouses are put in difficult positions when one partner is diagnosed with fibromyalgia,” Proulx said.

“Spouses must balance the presence of the disease, which can produce hostility or withdrawn behavior in the marriage, with the difficulty of being sick or being supportive to the spouse who is sick. These factors can create a cycle that can be very negative if it can’t be broken.”

In the study, Proulx is studying the interactions of married couples that include one spouse who has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic widespread pain.

The spouses record diary entries about their marital interactions and personal feelings. Proulx is examining the associations between marital quality, daily interactions, social support and the spouses’ personal wellbeing.

Fibromyalgia is controversial because there is no consensus on the cause of the chronic pain symptoms it causes, Proulx said.

It has no cure, so many of the couples who participated in the study reported that they were constantly trying different treatments to manage the symptoms.

Source: University of Missouri

Relationship Issues Accompany Fibromyalgia

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Relationship Issues Accompany Fibromyalgia. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/04/29/relationship-issues-accompany-fibromyalgia/13301.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.