Fibromyalgia and Emotional Sensitivity

Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster

Fibromyalgia and Emotional SensitivityWe all talk about the physical effects of fibromyalgia, but not to be overlooked are the mental and emotional effects. It is very common for fibro sufferers to experience a heightened emotional response.

I am not a doctor or specialist of any kind, so I can not explain why this is the case. But let’s be honest, doctors probably would not be able to explain it either. All I can tell you is the experiences that I have had and those of others I have talked to.

Many do not realize how closely linked depression and anxiety are with fibromyalgia. I had one doctor tell me that when they have done studies on people with fibromyalgia, it is often hard to tell which came first, the depression or the fibro.

It is easy to comprehend how fibromyalgia could cause depression. The constant pain and lack of sleep, not to mention the isolation that commonly follows, can really lead a person down a dark road.

Anxiety is also common for fibro sufferers. That also makes sense, given the constant fear of when and where the next flare will occur. But anxiety about how others do, or will, treat you prevails. Will they believe that you really do not feel well enough to make it out? Or do they think you are just saying that because you don’t want to go, or have something better to do?


Dealing with doctors can also lead to anxiety. Will this doctor believe me? Will this doctor be able to help me? Will they want to put me on a bunch of new medications? What will the side effects for any new medications be?

Heightened or Lack of Emotional Response

But there is also an increased emotional sensitivity that seems to be common for people with fibromyalgia. Something that you know should only be a slight upset becomes a huge tragedy. Even if your reaction makes no sense to you, you can’t control it.

On the other side of that coin, you may experience a lack of emotional response. Something very sad happens, but you have no reaction. Other people are looking at you like you are a robot, but you are unable to express the emotions you know you should be feeling, the emotions you normally would feel.

If you are like me, you may waver back and forth between these two extremes. One day you are sobbing over a slightly emotional TV commercial. The next day you have no reaction to your pet dying. Those are some pretty big extremes right? Well I’m going to blame the fibromyalgia.

And I’m not alone – other sufferers have experienced similar emotional instability. Could it be that fibromyalgia affects our brains and emotional response center just as it affects our pain response center? It is possible. But as I said, I am no expert.

What I can tell you is that these feelings, or lack thereof, are probably not going away anytime soon. Well is there any positive news? I have found a few things to be helpful.

Next page: three tips for coping.

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