The mental health of people is a major concern, with more than half of the respondents to a survey also suffering from depression and anxiety. The online survey was conducted by the chronic illness support organization NewLifeOutlook.
“Physical fibromyalgia symptoms amplify mental illness, and then the added stress from mental health complaints fuel an increase in physical symptoms,” Eric Patterson, a licensed counselor, said in a press release.
Among the 671 people with fibromyalgia who took part in the survey, more than 63 percent said they had been diagnosed with depression, and 58 percent were diagnosed with anxiety.(The survey had a 95 percent confidence level, plus or minus four percentage points.)
Though the exact relationship between fibromyalgia and mental health is not clear, doubts healthcare professionals and friends or family members over the disease’s impact on mental health may contribute to a downward spiral.
“It’s hard to deal with an illness when the people around you don’t understand what you go through on a daily basis,” said a survey participant. “This adds to your pain, anxiety and depression.”
Said another: “I have dealt with doctors, friends and family members that don’t even bother to hide their doubts, and even dismiss my symptoms and daily struggles.”
Raising awareness of fibromyalgia among physicians could help diagnose the condition more quickly, possibly helping to ease the anxiety felt by patients. According Patterson, people with fibromyalgia who deal with depression and anxiety, eat well, get gentle exercise, and make sleep a priority can improve both the disease’s physical symptoms and their mental health.
NewLifeOutlook is a group of websites for people with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia. It offers practical information to help people dealing with chronic illness day-to-day and helps them connect with people who share the same experiences.
According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, fibromyalgia is a long-term and debilitating condition characterized by widespread pain and fatigue, and affects nearly 1o million people in the United States.