An international team led by researchers at the University of Granada in Spain recently revealed that depression in women with fibromyalgia is associated with overall disease severity and the patient’s quality of life. The study was published in the journal Quality of Life Research and is entitled “Association of different levels of depressive symptoms with symptomatology, overall disease severity, and quality of life in women with fibromyalgia”.
Fibromyalgia is a medical disorder characterized by a set of symptoms that includes widespread chronic musculoskeletal pain, incapacitating fatigue, stiffness and numbness in certain parts of the body, painful response to pressure, headaches, unrefreshning sleep (poor sleep quality), anxiety or depression and mood alterations. Fibromyalgia can affect people’s ability to conduct simple daily tasks, compromising their quality of life. It is estimated that 5 to 15 million Americans are affected by this disorder, especially women. The causes of fibromyalgia are unclear, but it is thought that genetic, neurophysiological and psychosocial mechanisms are involved.
Depression, in particular, is estimated to affect 30 to 70% of the patients with fibromyalgia; however, the extent to which depressive symptoms are associated with poorer fibromyalgia related symptoms, overall disease severity and quality of life is still unclear.
In the study, researchers analyzed the possible association between different depression levels with fatigue, sleep quality, pain, functional exercise capacity, overall disease severity and health-related quality of life in 451 women with fibromyalgia.
The team found that fibromyalgia patients with severe depressive symptoms experienced significantly higher pain intensity, overall disease severity and fatigue, and a worse sleep quality and poorer mental component of health-related quality of life, in comparison to patients with minimal signs of depression. On the other hand, depression signs were found to be not associated with the physical component of health-related quality of life, exercise capacity and pain sensitivity.
The research team concluded that their findings strengthen the concept that there is an association between depression and fibromyalgia severity and quality of life in women with the disorder. The researchers suggest that the severity of the depressive symptoms in fibromyalgia patients could be considered a potential prognostic factor in future prospective intervention studies.