How Does Fibromyalgia Affect Mental Health?

About 4 million American adults — roughly 2% of the population — have fibromyalgia, regularly dealing with pain, stiffness, and fatigue. As debilitating as the physical symptoms are, fibromyalgia’s emotional effects can also be devastating, especially if those symptoms are ignored.

At Vulcan Pain Management, Victor E. Mendoza, MD, helps patients in Birmingham, Alabama, find relief for fibromyalgia’s physical and emotional effects, providing truly customized, patient-centered care based on each patient’s unique needs. If you have fibromyalgia, here’s what you should know about its impact on your mental health.

Fibromyalgia: The basics

No one knows exactly what causes fibromyalgia. What researchers do know is that people who have fibromyalgia are plagued by symptoms like pain, aching, sleep problems, and fatigue. Some people with fibromyalgia have memory problems or problems with cognition, sometimes referred to as “brain fog.” 

Most scientists think fibromyalgia symptoms occur because of differences in how the nervous system reacts to painful and non-painful stimuli. Researchers also know fibromyalgia tends to affect women more than men. Some people with fibromyalgia have other syndromes, like irritable bowel syndrome or chronic fatigue syndrome. While there’s no cure for fibromyalgia, it can be managed medically. 

For years, fibromyalgia wasn’t recognized as a “real” medical problem, leading to misunderstandings and a lack of support for those who suffer from fibromyalgia. Today, researchers know fibromyalgia and its symptoms are genuine, requiring active management to provide meaningful relief. 

Mental health impact

In addition to its physical symptoms, fibromyalgia also takes a toll on mental health. Research shows that people with fibromyalgia are three times more likely to have depression than people who don’t have fibromyalgia. What’s not clear is how depression and fibromyalgia are linked: Is depression a “normal” part of fibromyalgia, is depression triggered by fibromyalgia, or is there something about fibromyalgia that makes depression more likely?

Both depression and anxiety, another mental health issue associated with fibromyalgia, could in part be caused by the persistence of painful symptoms that can make it hard to socialize and participate in daily activities most of us take for granted. As a result, people with fibromyalgia may suffer from:

In addition to anxiety and depression, other emotional health issues are also more common among people with fibromyalgia, including:

What’s worse, fibromyalgia symptoms can often be triggered or worsened by emotional stress, creating a self-perpetuating cycle that makes treatment challenging. 

The key to managing fibromyalgia is to recognize and address all its symptoms — physical and emotional. Dr. Mendoza uses a multidisciplinary approach to fibromyalgia treatment, focusing not only on the physical symptoms, but also on the emotional health symptoms. Every treatment plan is patient-centered and customized for optimal results and successful long-term management.

Get relief for fibromyalgia symptoms

Although fibromyalgia is known for the physical symptoms it causes, it’s important not to underestimate its impact on your emotional health. If you have fibromyalgia, let Dr. Mendoza develop a treatment plan focused on managing all your symptoms so that you can enjoy better health and a better quality of life. Call the office or use our online form to schedule an appointment today.

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