Here is another chicken or the egg question. This blog post is one that I found which highlights that many, if not most, people struggling with Fibromyalgia or other chronic pain disorders, struggle with their mental health. The question is whether the chronic pain causes a mental health disorder like depression or anxiety, or whether these disorders were already present prior to your Fibromyalgia diagnosis. My opinion? The answer could be both. While unfortunately mental health is still considered an stigma that people are embarrassed to admit to, 18.2% of the U.S. adult population is diagnosed with a mental health disorder. That is 1 in 5 people. However, if you weren't diagnosed with something like depression prior to Fibromyalgia, it is completely understandable why you would be AFTER the diagnosis as your life does a complete 180, and in your eyes, not in a positive way.
So what does the blogger say about this?
"It can seem that the world is stacked against you. General depression is strongly associated with those who suffer from intractable pain since the experience of pain can make someone feel helpless and uncertain about the future. There are also high rates of bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders amongst pain patients, especially those suffering from migraines, fibromyalgia and arthritis."
So, this isn't actually just a feeling of hopelessness, but an actual connection; and, yet the blogger goes on to talk about how depression and pain share biological pathways. Biological pathways? What does that mean? Biological pathways are chemical reactions within a cell. So when you are depressed or in pain, cells are sending similar signals (depression vs. pain) to your brain often making it difficult for doctors who are not knowledgeable about Fibromyalgia to diagnose it. In my case, when I was trying to get diagnosed initially, my primary care doctor hastily dismissed Fibromyalgia and blamed it on depression.
On average, it is still taking a couple of years to get diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. That in itself can cause feelings of hopelessness, depression, anxiety and the like. But, don't give up. If you feel like the symptoms fit, keep on fighting. Find a new primary care doctor, look for a new internist, rheumatologist, neurologist, or even a naturopath. In speaking with my clients, many of them have found that seeking out doctors that think out of the box or practice more eastern medicine practices are more likely to recognize your Fibromyalgia.
This is also a great place to reach out to Fibromyalgia Advisor or Coach like myself. I can safely say that most of my clients have been diagnosed with some sort of mental health disorder alongside their Fibromyalgia and other co-existing conditions. I have been able to help them stabilize their mood along with finding ways to manage their pain as well as whatever other goals they have wanted to meet in order to live the best life they can while living with Fibromyalgia.
If this blog has touched even a small part of you, reach out to me by sending me a message through this website. I would love to hear from you, and consultations are always free. Please feel free to sign up for my mailing list as well. Until then, I'll be looking for more information to help support you to learn how to live your life to the fullest!
I’m Kate Straus and I’m a Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor. I help Jewish women feel confident in their ability to practice their faith while navigating the ups and downs of fibromyalgia. I’m using the disease that at one time knocked me down, to help support others live life to their fullest.