People who experience fibromyalgia are three times more likely to suffer from depression than the rest of the population, and depression is considered a symptom of fibromyalgia, according to the American College of Rheumatology. It remains unclear whether depression is triggered by fibromyalgia, if people who have fibromyalgia have a higher propensity for depression, or if depression is simply one part of the disease.
Either way, it’s clear that depression, along with many other mental health conditions, is something that people living with fibromyalgia frequently experience, and can severely impact their quality of life. According to a 2019 paper published in the journal Psychology Research and Behavior Management, in addition to depression, there are several psychological conditions associated with fibromyalgia, including:
Borderline Personality Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Other psychological symptoms include perfectionism, neurotic tendencies, and higher levels of stress and anger.
People who live with fibromyalgia were also found to experience low self-esteem, poor body image, difficulty in interpersonal relationships and in the workplace, and challenges socializing. Many report that completing the everyday tasks of daily life feel nearly impossible at times.
For fibromyalgia patients who experience mental health challenges, there are many options when it comes to treatment. In fact, many of the recommended treatments for fibromyalgia seek to combat both the mental health aspects of the disease along with the physical pain.
For example, practicing de-stressing techniques like meditation, yoga, and journaling are known not only to decrease anxiety and depression, but also decrease the pain symptoms of fibromyalgia. According to the American College of Rheumatology, antidepressants are also a first-line of defense when it comes to using medication to combat the condition.
Therapy is a wonderful way to manage the associated mental health struggles you experience with your fibromyalgia.
When looking for a therapist to help you, take some time to interview the therapists and counselors you are interested in. You may want to consider looking for a therapist who practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or someone whose practice focuses on mindfulness, as these have shown promise in helping fibromyalgia patients heal. You can also ask any prospective therapists if they have previous experience dealing with fibromyalgia patients.
Again, one of the most difficult aspects of getting treatment for fibromyalgia — along with the mental health challenges that are often associated with it — is the stigma surrounding the disease. It can be difficult to find a doctor or mental health expert who will take your symptoms seriously and who is well-versed in treatment options.
But you should know that such practitioners exist, and it’s worth putting yourself out there and looking for someone who can care for you with compassion and without judgment. Most of all, remember that you are not alone: fibromyalgia is more common than you might realize, and everyday more people are sharing their stories and finding the help they need.
It is possible to feel better — in both body and mind — while living with fibromyalgia.