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How to Treat Fibromyalgia and Depression?

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Learning the things that affect your symptoms and stress levels and either avoiding them or working around them can release unwanted tension from the body and promote enhanced wellness to live a happy and fulfilling life with fibromyalgia.

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Research shows that fibromyalgia is not a form of depression. However, depression and anxiety can co-exist with fibromyalgia and develop due to living with fibromyalgia.

Therefore, each condition and its treatments are essential as both can exacerbate each other and interfere with successful symptom management.

How to treat fibromyalgia and depression

The chronic pain of fibromyalgia alone may trigger mood changes and cause the development of depression. Fortunately, you can do things to improve both your pain symptoms and depression.

Ways you can treat fibromyalgia and depression:


Fibromyalgia symptoms are known to be worse when you are under increased stress. Therefore, the more you can decrease your stress levels, the better your depression and the less pain you will perceive.

Stress management for fibromyalgia and depression

When stress builds up, it can wear heavily on your nerves, causing a flare-up of fibromyalgia symptoms and can cause you to feel depressed. Therefore, you must take action before stress gets you down.

To stress less, you have to work at it. It isn't something that will happen overnight. It takes time to train your brain to deal with stress. Stress is a massive trigger for fibromyalgia and depression, so by learning to stress less, you will be able to better manage both conditions in the long run. There are many ways to train your brain to release stress.

Firstly, you have to decide what you want to try first and see what works best for you. Often it will take many things, and different things will work for different stress levels.

Everyday stress can sink away with a long bath and get lost in a good book. Additionally, you might like to get a regular massage to keep your body free of stress building up in your muscles.

How to relieve stress with fibromyalgia and depression

Another strategy is to get your stress out by getting all your thoughts out on paper, doing a brain dump regularly, or journaling your feelings and identifying what is stressing you if you feel overwhelmed by life, living with pain and fatigue.

Perhaps you deal with stress better by turning the music up loud and baking cookies. Or you put on headphones with your favorite podcast and head out the door for a walk.

► Adults Coloring: Stress Relief for Fibromyalgia

You might need more strenuous activity and a workout to get rid of the stress built up in your body. Working out is an excellent way to get rid of stress, though often hard to manage with fibromyalgia, pain, and fatigue. Experiment with low-impact workouts, like water aerobics, swimming, cycling, yoga, or pilates.


As mentioned above, exercise can help manage stress, and though it might feel like the last thing you want or feel like you can do, light exercise can also ease your pain and improve your mood.

Stretching, mat pilates, yoga, and tai chi are forms of gentle exercise that can decrease stress, improve your mood and help improve pain perception.

► Restorative Yoga For Fibromyalgia Pain


Scientists do not yet know why depression and fibromyalgia seem so intertwined. However, some think that the answer lies in the neurotransmitters in your brain.

How to deal with fibromyalgia and depression

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical in the brain that helps transmit messages about pain and emotion. Having low serotonin is associated with depression, anxiety, fatigue, and pain.

Research studies suggest that some people with fibromyalgia may not have enough serotonin.

Lack of serotonin may be why people with fibromyalgia can experience a reduction in pain when they take antidepressants which raise serotonin levels. There are various types of antidepressants, some help in chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, and some can lift depression, ease pain and facilitate restful sleep.

Generally speaking, newer antidepressants have fewer side effects than older antidepressants. However, it's best to discuss with your primary doctor which type of antidepressant will help your symptoms, how long it will take to work, and the potential side effects. You will need a prescription if you decide to take antidepressant medication.

As mentioned above, when people with fibromyalgia increase their serotonin levels, they tend to have less pain and fewer depressive symptoms. Don't be disheartened if you have to try two or three different antidepressants until you find the one that's right for you.


Serotonin also explains why people with fibromyalgia can relieve their pain when taking the 5-HTP supplement.

5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is converted into serotonin by the body and may increase serotonin levels. If it raises serotonin levels, there can be an improvement in depressive symptoms and Fibromyalgia symptoms.

Taking 5-HTP is generally considered safe alone, but take caution if you take an antidepressant - check with your doctor first.

This increase in serotonin helps improve mood and sleep and also can decrease fibromyalgia pain. If you choose to take 5-HTP, you can get them at a pharmacy, health store, or online. It's not recommended to take 5-HTP and antidepressants together. It's always best to check with your doctor before starting a supplement or alternative treatment.


With fibromyalgia, you will undoubtedly agree that one of the worst things anyone can say is, "perhaps it's all in your head," when referring to the pain you experience.

They mean well, but they can make you feel like they do not believe you are suffering from pain. You are not imagining the pain, but interestingly your perception of the pain and your suffering can make it feel worse.

Visiting a chronic pain therapist can help you work through the emotional toll of chronic pain and all the lifestyle changes you may endure because of fibromyalgia.


CBT or Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is a type of talk-based therapy that involves looking at how you feel about your pain, why you think that way, and trying to alter it to help you manage your pain better.

The philosophy of CBT suggests that it is not only outside events and situations but also individuals themselves that create experiences for good and evil, including pain.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Fibromyalgia and Depression

Therefore, by changing behaviors and thoughts, you can change your level of awareness concerning pain and learn skills to cope better with pain. Thus, even if the level and intensity of the pain do not change, you can experience pain relief as your perception of how it affects you changes.

Changing the behaviors, emotions, and thoughts related to pain can help put the level of discomfort you experience into context while improving your ability to cope with it.

As you stop allowing pain to interfere with your life as much, you will function better. As well as improving your actual outlook and attitude to a more positive one by learning positive self-talk.

CBT can alter how your brain physically reacts to pain. The stress caused by pain affects the chemicals that control pain, like serotonin and norepinephrine. CBT can help lessen their impact, which could increase your body's natural pain relief.

One of the worst things about suffering from chronic pain is that you may have a constant feeling of helplessness, feeling that there is nothing you can do to stop the pain. These feelings and thoughts can lead to or exacerbate depression and anxiety.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy for chronic pain

CBT can alter that because as you take action against the pain, you will feel more in control and more optimistic about lessening your pain regardless of the step.

CBT revolves around putting you in control of how pain affects you, this can be challenging, so it's best to work with a trained CBT therapist.

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