Anxiety and Depression
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, up to 20 percent of people with fibromyalgia suffer from an anxiety disorder or depression.
Researchers are not entirely certain why people with fibromyalgia suffer from anxiety, but they speculate it may have something to do with lower serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter known to affect moods, social behavior, sexual desire, memory, sleep, appetite and so much more.
If you are experiencing anxiety, you may find yourself worrying about general things, such as work, health, money, and family. Many anxiety sufferers describe their anxious feelings as continually being “on edge.”
Symptoms of anxiety can also be physical and may include sweating, trembling or twitching, headaches, nausea, irritability, inability to concentrate and muscle tensions.
Severe anxiety can cause anxiety attacks, also called panic attacks, which include the following symptoms:
- Excessive sweating
- A choking feeling
- Shortness of breath and/or heart palpitations
- Tingling sensations
Much like anxiety, depression in most people with fibromyalgia is thought to be the result of low levels of certain brain chemicals, especially serotonin.
Being depressed can keep you from taking care of yourself, adhering to treatment, managing fibromyalgia symptoms with diet and physical activity, and coping effectively. If you experience symptoms of depression, you should bring those to the attention of your attention.
Symptoms of depression in people with fibromyalgia include:
- Low energy
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Feeling hopeless, irritable or guilty
- Having no interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Persistent sad mood
- Uncontrollable crying
In severe cases, depression can lead to suicide attempts.
Coping with and Managing Anxiety and/or Depression
It is important you understand fibromyalgia is more than just muscle and tender point pain. It affects everything about you – your feelings, your response to stress, and even the way you communicate with loved ones and go about your life.
There are various ways you can manage anxiety and depression using both traditional and alternative medicine.
- Medications can be prescribed to help manage your anxiety and depression symptoms. Antidepressants are also useful for easing some fibromyalgia symptoms.
- You should focus on your health by eating right, resting and not overdoing things. Know your limits and don’t feel guilty when you have to say no.
- If there are people in your life who bring you undue stress, understand you cannot change those people, but you can minimize the time you spend with them. You should spend time with positive people who support you and make your life easier and better - either family, friends, or people in a support group.
- You should also focus on ways to express your feelings rather than bottling them up. Either talk someone you can trust or write your feelings down in a journal.
- On a daily basis, find activities to do that you enjoy, as these can make you happy and improve your overall well-being. And remember, let go of what you cannot control because some things are just simply out of your control.
- Relaxation techniques are also great ways to manage stress. Try meditation, deep breathing, mindfulness, listening to soothing music, yoga or tai chi.
- Some natural supplements are designed to promote relaxation and calmness. These include chamomile, B6 vitamins, magnesium, lavender, and St. John’s Wort. When considering supplements, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking anything in addition to your prescription medications. Supplements have some side effects and could adversely interact with prescription medications.
The Bottom Line
Fibromyalgia is a lifelong condition that causes pain, fatigue and a long list of other symptoms. While it is not curable, there are many options for treatments and coping.
Talk to your doctor your treatment options. From medication to physical therapy, there are plenty of alternatives when some treatments don’t work.
You can still have a productive and healthy life despite fibromyalgia by being proactive in coping with and managing symptoms.