How Psychological Health Ties Into Fibromyalgia

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a disorder of the central nervous system that causes a number of problems that are usually interlinked. The most common signs that signal the presence of fibromyalgia are the presence of consistent and chronic pain along with slight to severe depression.

Other symptoms include the disturbance of sleep patterns and moods. Another symptom that is commonly seen is the loss or deterioration of cognitive function.  Patients who suffer from fibromyalgia tend to have problems in short term and long-term memory.  They also have problems concentrating on tasks and performing complex duties.  When of the most common problems that is seen in patients suffering from this disease is that they’re unable to multitask and prioritize their work correctly.

The most problematic issue for all patients who suffer from this disease is that of the chronic pain.  This chronic pain can cause a number of secondary problems.  The first of these is depression.  Pain related depression affects people even when they’re not an active pain.  This is caught because the patients tend to anticipate the pain that they know will be coming shortly.  This can cause a lot of problems in daily life and can seriously affect the way a person functions at both work and in social relationships.  This disease is a very complicated mix of psychological and physiological phenomenon and even with the best minds in medical science working on it continuously, there’s still no clear-cut cause that has been identified as the primary one.

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia can be seen in a number of patients with very different characteristics.  What this means is that and that it is difficult to point out the exact cause for this disease in every single patient.  There are a number of similarities that can be seen between various patients who suffer from the disease all over the world. Few things are definitively known about the causes of fibromyalgia. Among the things that are clearly understood about this disease is the fact that it is hereditary and genetically linked. This places people who have relatives with the disease at a greater risk than those who do not.

How Psychological Health Ties Into Fibromyalgia

While the cause is unknown the effects of this disease have been studied in great detail.  The most common theory is that the main cause of the pain that is associated with his disease is caused due to abnormal functioning of the central nervous system in response to pain.  One way to study this affect is to use functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare the different responses of different patients and healthy people when they’re exposed to pain in controlled conditions.  The most significant difference between healthy people and patients afflicted with fibromyalgia can be seen in the neurons their close to the spinal cord and a responsible for handling pain sensations.  In healthy people the number of neurons that fire in response to pain is significantly less when compared to people suffering from fibromyalgia.  In patients the response to pain is greatly amplified and the impulses that serve to control the pain and reduce it are not very strong.

Where does psychology come in?

It is been consistently seen that people with psychological disorders form a greater fraction of fibromyalgia than it does in normal people.  This is because fibromyalgia is also thought to be triggered by psychological disorders such as depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.  In addition to this, people consistently suffer from chronic pain and thus are also chronically depressed have a higher risk of developing this disease.  This is the reason maintaining proper psychological health is of crucial importance in order to prevent diseases like fibromyalgia.  It is in fact hypothesize that depression might actually act as a trigger for this disease.

One sign that psychological problems can cause fibromyalgia can be seen from the fact that the issues of this disease respond well to psychological treatment.  Cognitive behavioral therapy and other psychological therapies have been demonstrated to cause a slight decrease in the pain and other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.  Having a positive and healthy outlook on life is one of the most important things that anyone can do to maintain good psychological health.  Such an outlook and positive attitude help people by protecting them from depression and other psychological problems.  The elimination or proper management of the psychological issues can be shown to go a great way in not only managing the symptoms and the pain associated with fibromyalgia but also in controlling the triggers of this disease.  People were psychologically sound have a much lower probability of developing fibromyalgia than people who have been exposed to conditions in situations that can potentially cause psychological problems like stress and depression.  This is the reason why this disease also affects a large number of the armed forces.



  • Freda Lovell

    I was dx in 1980 with Fibro and I thought this spoke very well on how Fibromyalgia can be triggered. I have also come across some patients as a support group leader that were nurses and a few that had serious car accidents or other kinds of accidents that they thought triggered their illness. It’s all very interesting.

    I am so very sure that the abuse I took from my father as a young child and a serious car accident when I was 19 had everything to do with my illness. Plus, I married a man who suffer PTSD and is bipolar and had gone untreated most of our marriage. I feel certain that my father was also bipolar now and I just thought all men were this way. So, I just took this behavior and raised two children and suffered. It wasn’t easy. Now, at the age of 65 he was dx, just a year ago, and for the first time in my life, I am feeling so much better. I can finally breath. There is hope, just keep the faith. It took me my young life to finally find some peace, but maybe I’ll get in a few good years. I still suffer pain and some depression when my pain level are high, but I hold on knowing that when my pain levels drop, so will the depression. It’s a roller coaster, but most of life is about the ups and downs.

    Sincerely, with soft fibro hugs, Freda

    • Dawn Hamilton

      Freda, I see that your comment is two years old already, but I am wondering how you are doing now? I really like the way you describe our lives with fibro as a roller coaster. That really captures the highs and lows that we live with constantly.

  • tearcollector

    My life was great and after the car accident left me with some physical damage and chronic pain, then came the Fibromyalgia diagnosis and then I became depressed. I certainly wasn’t depressed beforehand.

    The fact that I didn’t have support didn’t help. Even now, 15 years later and using a cane, my sister insists I leave the house more often even though she knows I’m in pain. She doesn’t seem to get that knowing and feeling are two different things! Those of you who are healthy, please don’t tell people what they should or need to do. We live in our bodies and we truly know best.