Fibromyalgia, Depression & Self-Care
Updated: May 3
Fibromyalgia is a condition that is so 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 living as a Fibromyalgia sufferer is sure 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. In addition, it is disheartening having to rely on pain relievers to make it through the day.
When living with Fibromyalgia you may often feel like wanting to curl up in a ball and wish the world would disappear. However, knowing it won't and working through their physical pain and mental distress drags them further down emotionally.
You can have Fibromyalgia, not even realizing you're suffering from depression, which is a condition itself. It's easy to look at life with fibromyalgia, dealing with day in and day out constant pain, poor sleep night after night, extreme fatigue, and feeling overwhelmed, and accepting this is all part of Fibromyalgia.
However, with Fibromyalgia, there can already be chronic low energy levels and loss of pleasure in formerly enjoyable activities; this chronic sadness can manifest in feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
However, when you are struggling with this Fibromyalgia life, you need to stop and think about your mental health for a moment 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 also cause your nervous system to become overloaded with a range of overwhelming feelings, including anxiety and anger. Ultimately this can also result 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've been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, you most likely already know the reason.
Feelings of depression are valid symptoms of fibromyalgia. However, 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 effectively 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 to create and implement 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.
Experts believe that your emotional well-being is vitally important, and you may overlook this aspect of your health. For example, suppose you avoid addressing stressful situations in your life. In that case, you might consider that your emotional well-being is satisfactory, and you might even feel that you are in control of how you are feeling about stressful situations.
Unfortunately, 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.
Suppose you are a busy person or overwhelmed by your Fibromyalgia symptoms. In that case, 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 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 involves many aspects of your daily life, including eating nutritious food, staying away from foods that trigger Fibromyalgia symptoms, and getting enough sleep and regular exercise. It can be pretty challenging to keep to a nutritious diet, maintain an exercise routine and get adequate rest when living with Fibromyalgia.
Try to make small changes to your lifestyle each week to add in physical self-care. For example, try to eat more whole foods, get to bed earlier, or stretch 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 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, 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.
An essential 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. In addition, professional self-care includes scheduling appointments with specialists who can help you manage Fibromyalgia.
This may consist of consultations with medical professionals such as your primary care physician, a rheumatologist, and a physiotherapist. In addition, it may include seeking support from a holistic doctor and alternative medicine professionals such as a naturopath, nutritional therapist, acupuncturist, or massage therapist.
If you have emotional or mental challenges, it's essential to seek help from a medical professional; this might be your primary health physician who can advise on the appropriate treatment and support for your situation.
In addition, your doctor may recommend you to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor to further investigate your case 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 harsh when you live isolated and without psychological support.
Psychological self-care can also be dealing with other psychological issues, such as post-traumatic stress, 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.