A Pain In The Head: Understanding The Link Between Fibromyalgia And Psychological Disorders

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is frequently thought of as a physical disorder, but it is actually closely linked to mental disorders. If you have Fibromyalgia, your brain abnormally responds to stress and pain. Your brain's opioid receptors, which are responsible for how you psychologically respond to physical pain, are not as active as the opioid receptors in someone without Fibromyalgia. This lack of opioid receptor activity results in chronic pain and fatigue.

Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

People with Fibromyalgia do not always share the same symptoms. The one common and over-arching symptom of Fibromyalgia is chronic pain experienced throughout the body. Fibromyalgia patients also frequently report physical symptoms like stiffness, headaches, digestive disorders, and numbness.

Fibromyalgia's symptoms are not limited to only physical pains. Common psychological side effects of Fibromyalgia are depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and memory problems.

The Link Between Fibromyalgia and Psychological Disorders

Fibromyalgia's psychological symptoms are often more troublesome than the physical ones. As a matter of fact, about half of those diagnosed with this disease also report suffering from either depression or an anxiety disorder.

  • Depression: If your neurotransmitters are working improperly, you might have a chemical imbalance that leaves you feeling depressed. The under-active chemical receptors responsible for your Fibromyalgia can also interfere with your mood. If you are already susceptible to depression, Fibromyalgia's other side effects, like fatigue and chronic pain, can increase your chances of suffering from depression because these side effects interfere with your day to day activities, your social life, and your avoidance of once-enjoyed activities.
  • Anxiety: Researchers are still learning about the causes of Fibromyalgia, so a diagnosis is often frightening for patients to receive. Furthermore, Fibromyalgia is frequently misdiagnosed, and the average person sees many doctors over the course of several years before receiving a correct diagnosis. Regardless of whether or not you have been officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, the symptoms associated with this disease can cause you to also suffer from some type of anxiety disorder. There are several recognized anxiety disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder.

What to Do If You Have Fibromyalgia

If your doctor has diagnosed you with Fibromyalgia, you are on your way to a happier, healthier life. Your doctor will help you manage your Fibromyalgia symptoms and give you a treatment plan that will minimize the pain and physical problems.

If you think you have a psychological disorder in addition to your Fibromyalgia, make an appointment with a psychiatrist. Common antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications often do not work as well for people suffering from Fibromyalgia as they do for people without Fibromyalgia. As a result, your general practitioner can help you with the physical side effects of Fibromyalgia, but may not have a working knowledge of the disease's psychological effects and how to address them.