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Negative Thoughts Worsen Fibromyalgia Symptoms


Our brains are truly the most remarkable part of our bodies. Our brains control the beating of our hearts, allows us to continue breathing even when we are asleep, and interprets the world around us so we can navigate it safely. And while our brain does have the ability for automatic action, one of its most impressive aspects is its ability for free thought. However, a new study suggests that if your thoughts are negative, it could have a direct impact on your fibromyalgia symptoms.

The study, entitled “Rumination Modulates Stress And Other Psychological Processes In Fibromyalgia,” was published in the European Journal of Rheumatology.

Rumination, by definition, is a particular way of thinking, generally characterized by repetitive, intrusive and uncontrollable thoughts; often negative. The study suggests that these thoughts may influence a multitude of psychological factors such as coping and optimism, which in turn can then amplify the sense of perceived stress in fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is distinguished by widespread pain and high levels of sleep disturbance, fatigue and diminished cognition, which can be further exhausted by psychological stressors, anxiety, depression and now, rumination is thought to worsen the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

“We hypothesized that higher levels of rumination would be associated with psychological variables that are linked to stress itself,” says Katrina Malin, one of the authors that wrote the study. “These variables include mood, control, optimism, sleep, and coping. We aimed to examine the role of rumination thinking style and to explore whether this thinking style contributes to stress levels in FM.”

The study involved 98 women with fibromyalgia who filled out several questionnaires in order to assess their levels of rumination, stress, anxiety, depression, optimism, control, and coping. The results?

“The association between stress and rumination was the strongest of all the variables tested,” the authors wrote. “High rumination was associated with high stress. We could not define the cause and effect with this cross-sectional methodology; however, we believe that it was likely that rumination generated emotional distress rather than the other way around. We have previously demonstrated that in this same cohort, stress predicted the levels of the characteristic phenotypic clinical features of FM, namely pain, poor sleep, cognition, and fatigue. These results are congruent with the effect of stress on other psychological and functional variables as reported in previous studies,” Malin went on to say.

This is a huge win for the fibromyalgia community, especially for those specific individuals looking for less dependence on medication and is a strong link towards the holistic health model.