Why Early Diagnosis of Depression Is Important With Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia and depression frequently go hand-in-hand as close to 90% of fibromyalgia sufferers will have depressive symptoms at one point, and up to 86% of patients could wind up with major depressive disorder, or MDD. In about one third of fibromyalgia cases, patients are depressed at the time of diagnosis, so it can be difficult to determine which disorder came first.
Although physical symptoms are probably the most prominent when living with fibromyalgia, it’s important not to ignore the emotional symptoms that come with fibromyalgia, and prepare to make some changes to your treatment plan in order to restore balance and regain control.
Common Early Symptoms of Depression
If you are able to address depressive symptoms immediately, you can prevent many uncomfortable consequences to your home and work life. Watch out for these common markers of depression in fibromyalgia:
- Abnormally low energy
- Irritability and guilt
- Anxiety that won’t go away
- Insecurity and a feeling of helplessness
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
There are different types of depression that can affect fibromyalgia sufferers. Clinical depression is severe and lasts for weeks or months at a time, while bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are more sporadic and can be difficult to predict.
How Anxiety and Depression Aggravate Fibromyalgia
Although the severe sadness and emptiness of depression can be difficult to handle, the tension, worry and nervousness that distinguish an anxiety disorder can be just as damaging for fibromyalgia patients.
Experts believe that both depression and anxiety can affect the way your brain perceives pain, causing greater or more sustained painful sensations. Abnormalities in the sympathetic nervous system may be to blame for this higher pain sensitivity in fibromyalgia patients, and together with nervousness, worry and general insecurity, that discomfort can be a big burden.
Ultimately, it’s more difficult for people who suffer from anxiety and depression to deal with the stressors that come with fibromyalgia, which makes targeted anxiety treatment very important. If depression and anxiety are left untreated, a patient will almost certainly lose control over their symptoms and their impact on family life, work responsibilities and financial obligations.
The Best Treatments for Depression and Anxiety in Fibromyalgia
Depression and anxiety can take different forms in different people, but stress seems to be a universal trigger. Since an overload of physical and emotional stress can aggravate depressive symptoms, some of the most effective treatments for depression in fibromyalgia aim to relieve persistent stress:
- Relaxation treatments like massage, balneotherapy and guided meditation can decrease pain and muscle tension while relieving emotional strain.
- Biofeedback can effectively calm the mind and the body by teaching you how to control your own physiological processes.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy for sleep issues can help diminish the unrelenting fatigue of fibromyalgia. A better sleep at night can directly impact mood, comfort and mobility the next day.
In certain cases, anti-depressant medication may help relieve some emotional symptoms, but there’s no universal cure. Certain drug combinations can bring adverse effects, and could create dependence, so it’s important to consider a range of treatment options. Many fibromyalgia sufferers report the greatest improvements in mood and energy after using a holistic approach to depression treatment.