What is the link between Fibromyalgia, Depression & Self-Care?


Fibromyalgia is a condition that is much more than only painful muscles and fatigue. Not only does it cause pain, but eventually, it challenges your entire way of life – feelings, attitude, and other emotions.

It is almost impossible not to suffer from some level of depression when suffering from fibromyalgia. The connection between fibromyalgia and depression is genuine. Studies show that those with fibromyalgia are about three times more prone to depression than those without fibromyalgia.


No one knows the exact reason for the link. It could be that the same changes or abnormalities in the nervous system and brain chemistry, which make a person more sensitive to pain, also cause them to be more prone to depression.


LIVING WITH FIBROMYALGIA


Even if this is not the case, the simple reality of having to live as a fibromyalgia sufferer is certain to cause intense feelings of negative emotion. Feeling sad or low is a normal reaction to the pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia.


It is tough to maintain a positive attitude when you go to bed at night in pain, wake in pain, and know that there will possibly be more pain during the day, all seemingly without apparent cause. It is disheartening having to rely on pain relievers to make it through the day.


People with fibromyalgia often experience feelings of wanting to curl up in a ball and wish the world would go away. Knowing it won’t and they must try to work through their physical pain and mental distress drags them further down emotionally.


People with Fibromyalgia already dealing with low energy levels and loss of pleasure in formerly enjoyable activities; this chronic sadness can manifest in feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and even thoughts of death.


DISCOVERING DEPRESSION


You can have fibromyalgia, and not even you're suffering from depression, which is a condition itself. It's so easy to look at life with fibromyalgia, dealing with day in and day out with constant pain, poor sleep night after night, extreme fatigue, and feel overwhelmed. When you are struggling with this fibromyalgia life, you might need to stop and think for a moment about your mental health, to consider that the decreased energy, inability to concentrate, irritability, and anxiety are more than just physical; perhaps it's depression.


The constant stress of living with fibromyalgia symptoms can cause your nervous system to become overloaded with a range of overwhelming feelings, including anxiety and anger. Ultimately this can and very often results in feeling depressed.


THE NEED FOR ACTION


It's vital to gain control over depression associated with fibromyalgia. Most people diagnosed with depression are encouraged to look for the cause of their depression – if you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, then most likely, you already know the cause.


Feelings of depression are valid symptoms of fibromyalgia. When discussing your range of symptoms with your health care provider, please don’t gloss over them or focus only on the physical effects. This will help your doctor to suggest methods of treatment that are right for you better.


Although there’s no specified cure for fibromyalgia, the symptoms, including depression, can be treated successfully. The method of controlling or reducing depression symptoms you choose may include antidepressants, cognitive behavior therapy, exercise, positive diet changes, and other alternative techniques such as biofeedback, acupuncture, and meditation.


Making time for adequate self-care can be effective means to combat depression, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.



DAILY SELF-CARE CHECKLIST


If you want to improve your mood daily, then you must have a self-care plan. You might think you don't have the time for creating and implementing a plan for your self-care, but by taking care of your body and mind, you can avoid additional mental or health problems in the future.


The best way to keep track of self-care is by using a self-care journal or a calendar to schedule the times and days for appointments or other activities. Use these self-care guidelines to improve the way that you feel.

Emotional Self-Care


Experts believe that your emotional well-being is vitally important, and you may overlook this aspect of your health. If you avoid addressing stressful situations in your life, you might consider that your emotional well-being is fine, and you might even feel that you are in control of how you are feeling about the stressful situations. Unfortunately, though when we choose to ignore emotional difficulties and not address how stressful situations impact our health, they tend to be left, and the problems worsen with time. One of the best ways to understand your emotional health is by taking the time to notice your mood. If you are a busy person or overwhelmed by your fibromyalgia symptoms, then you might not notice that you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, sad, or angry until the emotions lead to a flare-up of fibromyalgia symptoms, including a prolonged depressed mood. Keeping a diary of life events and recording your mood daily can help you identify situations that negatively affect your mood. It can also help you discover the small things you may not realize, bringing you joy, happiness, and hope.

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care involves many aspects of your daily life, including eating nutritious food, staying away from foods that trigger fibromyalgia symptoms, getting enough sleeping and regular exercise. It can be quite challenging to keep to a nutritious diet, maintain an exercise routine and get adequate sleep when living with Fibromyalgia. Try to make small changes to your lifestyle each week to add in physical self-care. For example, try to add in eating more whole foods, getting to bed earlier, or stretching daily for one week. The key is to create healthy habits and to build on those each week. Some healthy habits may take longer than others to stick. Use a food and fitness journal to track your progress or a whiteboard that you can check off your daily goals. Physical self-care is a powerful way to take control of your symptoms, including depression. It's okay to build this up slowly, don't give up!


Spiritual Self-Care


Spiritual self-care can include traditional religious services, but it also can involve daily practices such as meditation or prayer. You may want to have a quiet area of your home where you can focus on spirituality. This area might have religious candles or other objects that you can focus on to clear your mind of troubling thoughts, distract from pain and relax your body. If you want to practice meditation but don't understand how to, you can enroll in a class or online that teaches you how to focus your mind or use meditation to relax and decrease your perception of pain and improve your mood. YouTube and Podcast platforms are also good resources for learning about mediation. Traditional religious services can bring comfort and bring hope and provide friendship and support from the religious community. You can find details about religious services online, and also now many religious groups offer teaching and services online so you can worship from home.


Professional Self-Care

An important part of self-care is visiting professionals for examinations and treatments for medical problems such as poor blood circulation, arthritis, migraines, or any one of your fibromyalgia symptoms. Professional self-care includes scheduling appointments with specialists who can help you manage fibromyalgia. This may include consultations with conventional medical professionals such as your primary care physician, a rheumatologist, and a physiotherapist. It also may including seeking support from a holistic doctor and alternative medicinal professions such as a naturopath, nutritional therapist, acupuncturist, or massage therapist.

Psychological Self-Care


If you are having emotional or mental challenges, it is essential to seek help from a medical professional; this might be your primary health physician who can advise of the appropriate treatment and support for your situation. Your doctor may recommend you to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor to further investigate your situation and offer you more specialized treatment. It's important to have psychological support when living with Fibromyalgia; the psychological impact of living with chronic pain and suffering from life-changing symptoms, including depression or anxiety, is tough when you live isolated and without psychological support. Psychological self-care can also be dealing with other psychological issues that may also be related and not related to fibromyalgia, such as post-traumatic stress problems with alcohol and drug addiction. If it negatively impacts your mental and physical help, please reach out to family, friends, and medical professionals, and ask for help.



Read next: Get a Better Nights Sleep with Fibromyalgia.

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