A research team at the University of Granada and the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain recently revealed that the idea of suicide is more predominant in patients suffering from fibromyalgia. The study is entitled “Suicidal Ideation in Patients with Fibromyalgia: A Cross-Sectional Study” and was published in the journal Pain Practice.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread chronic musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, stiffness and numbness in certain parts of the body, headaches, sleep disorder and mood alterations. It is a disease that can affect people’s ability to conduct simple daily tasks, compromising their quality of life. Women are more likely to develop this disorder than men.
The chronic pain, depression and sleep disorders characteristic of fibromyalgia have been shown to be associated with an increased tendency for suicidal behaviors. In fact, suicide mortality was found to be greater among fibromyalgia patients.
The goal of this study was to determine the prevalence of suicidal ideation in fibromyalgia patients and study its correlation with the clinical signs of the disease. 373 patients were assessed in a cross-sectional study and scores regarding outcome measures were compared between patients with and without suicidal thoughts, such as the Beck Depression Inventory (a 21-question multiple-choice self-report questionnaire for determining the severity of depression), the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (to assess the overall health status of patients with fibromyalgia), the Brief Pain Inventory (self-report or interview inventory to assess the severity of pain and its impact on daily functions), the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (a self-rated questionnaire to evaluate sleep quality and disturbances), and the Short Form-12 Health Survey (to assess the own health perspective of the individual). The results were adjusted according to the participants’ sex, age, total comorbidity and time since fibromyalgia diagnosis.
The team found that of the 373 fibromyalgia patients, 48% (179) reported suicidal ideation, and of these, 39.7% (148 patients) had passive suicidal ideation while 8.3% (31) actually reported active suicidal ideation. Strong correlations were identified between suicidal ideation and the overall mental health status of the individual, anxiety, depression and sleep quality. Interestingly, suicidal ideation was found to only have a weak association with the general physical health and pain resulting from the disease.
“Our results suggest that suicidal ideation is highly prevalent among severely affected fibromyalgia patients and that it is associated more with mental than with physical symptomatology,” concluded the research team.