According to the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA), Fibromyalgia is “characterized by chronic widespread pain, multiple tender points, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbances, fatigue and often psychological distress.” (www.fmaware.org) While this chronic pain disorder undoubtedly affects individuals physically, it can also affect them mentally, emotionally, and socially as well. Sufferers of Fibromyalgia often have difficulties making it through daily routines, due to the intense pain stemming from the disease. In addition to the constant pain and the frustration of not being able to complete certain tasks, individuals with this disorder often have to deal with people who don’t believe it is a real disease.
Depression – on the other hand – is described as a serious medical condition; a mood disorder that causes a person to persistently experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest. Although depression, much like Fibromyalgia, makes it difficult to live a normal day-to-day life, the two disorders are certainly not one in the same. Sometimes people tend to group Fibromyalgia and depression together, believing that they are somehow a cause and effect duo. However, that isn’t necessarily the case.
Although it has yet to be proven whether or not one disorder leads to the other, studies certainly show a link between Fibromyalgia and depression. In fact, it’s sad that at least 20% of Fibromyalgia sufferers also suffer from some form of depression. In addition, adult sufferers of the disease are much more likely than those without it to develop depression. And though the two are completely separate disorders, it certainly isn’t difficult to recognize the commonalities that they share.
“Depression makes pain worse and causes lots of fatigue and functional disability in fibromyalgia patients.” (www.everydayhealth.com) There is an obvious connection between the two disorders, meaning that if the symptoms of one are alleviated, typically the symptoms of the other are, as well. Unfortunately, there are currently no medications that treat chronic pain and mood disorders simultaneously. However, there are a number of treatment options, designed to help relieve some of the pain as well as stress and/or anxiety associated with suffering from both diseases.
Of course there are over-the-counter pain medications that may be taken to help ease the pain of Fibromyalgia. Physicians can also prescribe pain medications to help tolerate the pain, but when combined with an antidepressant, it can greatly improve the symptoms overall. Serotonin and Norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are commonly used – as well as very effective – for symptoms of both Fibromyalgia and depression. Another treatment option is to attend therapy and/or counseling. These methods may help to change the way the patient deals with the pain and/or views their overall situation – thus possibly changing their outlook to a more positive one. It is also recommended to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and maintain a daily routine.
So, even though Fibromyalgia and depression aren’t the same disorder, the two certainly have a strong correlation. Individuals suffering from Fibromyaglia are likely to experience depression at some point in their life, so knowing the connection early on can be helpful. Despite the thoughts and beliefs of some people, these two disorders are very real, and very difficult to live with. Being criticized for the uncontrollable doesn’t help those suffering – they simply need acceptance, love, and support.