Fibromyalgia and Depression


Fibromyalgia may be a common disorder but unfortunately its causes and moreover, the treatment is yet to be discovered. This complex pain disorder may occur in a particular part of the body or all over the body and stay for a long time. The pain that the person goes through, increases and decreases over time. It not only affects the person physically, but also mentally and socially.

People who suffer from this disorder not only feel physical pain, but also have to suffer from insomnia, headaches, forgetfulness, and numbness or tingling in arms and legs.

Since fibromyalgia affects mainly the muscles and joints and the patients are exhausted most of the time, they often have to reduce their daily activities and experience a loss of interest in doing those things which they earlier used to enjoy. This constant pain and fatigue can cause anxiety and isolation from society. This withdrawal can lead to depression. (Fibromyalgia and depression, 2015)


Many studies show a link between fibromyalgia and depression. About 20 percent who live with this chronic pain also suffer from an anxiety disorder or depression. (Fibromyalgia, 2015). People with fibromyalgia are up to three times more likely to have depression at the time of their diagnosis than someone without fibromyalgia. (Fibromyalgia and Depression, 2015) . It has been found that at any point in time both depression and fibromyalgia occur concurrently in at least 40% cases. (Mandal, 2015). At least one fourth of fibromyalgia patients also have some form of depression. (Sullivan, 2010).

Connection between Fibromyalgia and Depression

Some of the research on this topic has been divided on the basis of where it is located. Researchers who look at the brain, say that the brain chemistry gets affected. While others, look at the sympathetic nervous system, part of the nervous system that handles stress and emergencies. These abnormalities release substances which increases the body’s sensitivity to pain. Hence, person with fibromyalgia suffers more. (Fibromyalgia and Depression, 2015).

Some of the research shows that genetic factors or the environment may play a role in the development of depression or fibromyalgia. (Mandal, 2015).

People with fibromyalgia are seen to have lower serotonin levels which indicates depression.

Types of Depression

In order to diagnose the disorder as depression, the symptoms must last for a certain time period. Some of the symptoms include: loss in motivation and pleasure in doing that you used to enjoy, indecisiveness, feeling sad, crying frequently, guilt, feeling worthless, fatigue, loss of appetite, fluctuating weight, and thoughts of death or suicide. The most common type of depression diagnosed in fibromyalgia patients, is clinical depression. The other types include seasonal depression and bipolar depression. (Depression in the Fibromyalgia Patient, 2015)


  1. Antidepressants. There is no medication which can be used to treat both pain and mood disorders. However, doctors usually prescribe medicines which treat fibromyalgia symptoms. This in turn, may reduce depression to some extent.

The two types of antidepressants used to treat fibromyalgia symptoms are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and combined Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). SNRIs are much more effective as they treat both depression and fibromyalgia, whereas, SSRIs only treat fibromyalgia symptoms and are not as effective.

  1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This type of therapy challenges the way you think, with special focus on negative thoughts. Counsellors who use this method with fibromyalgia patients, try to address the problem of how you perceive pain and how to deal with it.
  2. Counselling. Counselling could take place in two settings. One, as group therapy and two, as one-on-one interaction with the therapist. In group therapy, patients could meet a therapist and exchange ideas and experiences. Patients feel a sense of belongingness when they interact with people who have shared their pain and agony.

Patients also learn new techniques to deal with pain and other issues.

Though group therapy seems effective and is economical, individual therapy is considered to be more effective.

  1. Self- Help. Elizabeth W. Carson, PhD, a clinical psychologist on staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, Ga., says that depression is a form of exhaustion and with fibromyalgia, sleep is fragmented and circadian rhythms are disturbed. Getting into a regular routine of sleep and performing daily activities can help re-establish healthy circadian rhythms. “Sleep hygiene is really important in treating depression associated with fibromyalgia,” adds Carson. (Sullivan, 2010)

Additionally, exercise such as walking, jogging, and riding a bike may benefit patients with depression. Exercise can help people feel better both physically and mentally. (Sullivan, 2010)

Though, an effective cure has not been found for fibromyalgia, with the help of medications, counselling and lifestyle changes, this battle can be won. Along with all of this, support of family members pushes the person to try harder. The patient too must be strong and must communicate the emotions they are feeling and any change that they are undergoing. They should try to put themselves out in the society and surround themselves with people.


Depression in the Fibromyalgia Patient. (2015). Retrieved from

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Fibromyalgia and depression. (2015). Retrieved from Boots Web MD:

Fibromyalgia and Depression. (2015). Retrieved from Web MD:

Mandal, A. (2015). Fibromyalgia, Depression and Anxiety. Retrieved from News-Medical.Net:

Sullivan, S. L. (2010, June 16). Depression: A Common Fibromyalgia Symptom. Retrieved from Everyday Health: