Coping with the Depression Fibromyalgia Can Bring

Coping with the Depression Fibromyalgia Can Bring

finding balance
You probably have heard about the link between fibromyalgia and depression. Why wouldn’t a FM sufferer be depressed? Chronic pain, the underlying illnesses along with the loss of friends, family, career, mobility and sex, to name just a few, almost guarantee depression.

Having to cope with the loss of friends and family because they don’t believe you is devastating. This illness is hard enough to deal with, but to have to go it alone, makes it almost impossible to bear.

Just when you need your friends and family the most, they desert you or belittle you. Being called a hypochondriac or a liar, when you are far from that, is enough to send anyone into a deep depression. Knowing you are telling the truth, but are not believed, is a horrible feeling that can leave you reeling.

Having lost friends because I forgot too many important occasions, or cancelled too many times, makes me afraid to make new ones. I’m not getting better physically, so I don’t think my ability to be a good friend is going to improve as I age. Unless I can somehow control my FM, I’m only going to go in one direction – down.

Is medication the answer for our depression? I was prescribed Prozac when I was in my early thirties, because my doctor thought it would help my horrible periods. I suffered from a few different side effects so I had to stop taking it. My primary care put me on Cymbalta when I was first diagnosed with FM, but the side effects, once again, forced me to stop. I would prefer not to take medication for this. I take far too many as it is!

What can we do to improve our mood and get us out of a funk? Short of a cure for fibro, there are a few methods that may help lift your spirits, without medicating yourself to the gills.

Changing your mood

One of my favorites is a warm Epsom salts bath, with a few essential oils thrown in. I love using a pain relief blend or lavender. Sometimes I even turn on some relaxing music and dim the lights or use candles. I love to soak for as long as I can. Doing this before bed helps me sleep better after a tough day. It also makes me feel at peace.

Finding joy with this illness is extremely difficult, but not impossible. I’ve found great joy owning a pet. Having a pet can be very beneficial for those of us with chronic pain. I have cats because they are my favorite anima, plus they are easy to care for. They love you unconditionally, and some can pick up on your pain and sadness. They are there for you when you need them the most. I prefer my cats over most people! However, it is important to keep in mind that pets are a big commitment and can require a lot of work.

If you don’t have one, find a fibro friend. There is nothing better than having someone to commiserate with. Find a support group. The easiest place to find one is online. Facebook has a treasure trove of groups to pick from. For me, I prefer a closed group. You can say whatever you need without any of your other Facebook friends seeing your posts. It’s a great way to get something off your chest that only the group can see. You also don’t have to worry about being judged or made fun of.

Finding joy and happiness may seem so difficult to attain, that you stop trying to find it. It is almost impossible to feel joy when you feel you don’t have much to be thankful for. I know I have it better than so many others. There’s still so much I am grateful for. Feeling gratitude, in turn, makes me feel joyful, so I try to focus on the positives in my life. It may be hard to find them, but they are there!

What do you do to find joy? Can you see the positives in life? Do you find medication helps you cope with life?

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Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia. 

20 comments

    • Carrie Anton says:

      Julie,
      I’m in 2 groups. “In Spite of My Illness” and “Fibromyalgia Support”. Both are closed groups that offer great support. Robin Dix, a great advocate and fellow columnist, runs In Spite of My Illness.

      Finding these groups changed my life. I have somewhere I can be myself with no fear. We need a people we can feel safe with. Please check out these groups and feel free to contact me. I’m not that quick to respond sometimes but I will eventually 🙂 Gentle hugs!!

      • Em says:

        Thanks Carrie! I joined a support group and I think I might like it. Not much into fb, but decided to give it a try. 🙂

        • Carrie Anton says:

          Yay! I’m so happy for you Em! I was huge into fb but not so much anymore, except for the support groups. I think you will really get a lot out of it. I gained a lot of knowledge and friendships with people who are going through what I am. One of the best things I’ve done for myself! Gentle hugs!

  1. Em says:

    So many of the things you mentioned is the very reason I no longer even try to make friends. Medications of any kind have been a disaster and I ended up being worse than before.
    To exacerbate things even more I was deceived by a representative about medical insurance as a secondary (I know many who have this and are pleased) and it ended up being my primary rather than Medicare and I am now facing a $5000 lab bill. As a primary it is worthless.
    Ethics are something that is lacking-trust is just so much rust that gets washed a way in old water pipes. I am not the only person this happened to this year as a result of turning 65. Working on it and have been told I cannot change back to Medicare until October. Time for we oldies, but goodies w/ ethics and morals to unite!!!
    Yup, working on it. Later perhaps.

    • Carrie Anton says:

      Hi Em,

      I hate reading stories like yours because I work in the financial / insurance industry, and people such as the one that deceived you make me so angry! You may be able to sue that person but it won’t change the situation you are in with having to wait to go medicare.

      I agree with everything you said. You can’t seem to trust anyone these days and a lot of people don’t know what having ethics means!

      Best of luck and gentle hugs to you!

      • Em says:

        Thanks Carrie. Sue the rep-no way as she would lie her way out of it any way. This would not solve any thing. So true when it comes to someone who does have ethics-a person like this is an embarrassment not only to others in this field, but to her company as well. I plan to go directly to the company and do the “play dumb” thing and see if I can straighten things out as call the rep has already left me feeling stupid as I asked for it as a secondary and ended up w/ it being my primary-there went my Medicare.
        I keep telling myself this will work out. Also trying to get my body to cease jumping and jerking. I have not had this happen for a long time. I really know I can calm myself-I have too! Weak of me to allow another to have this much control. I am not angry, but I certainly feel like a fool.
        She needed the commission as she does have a son in college.
        People do what they do to pay their bills. This will work out.
        She did return one of my calls and became rather snitty telling me this is what I had requested. I said nothing and she wanted to know if I would like her to come again and review it all with me once more. I politely responded, “no thank you”. Seems this company has been doing this more than is realized. I had never heard of it as I primary for someone on Medicare-nor has anyone else. Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!!!!
        Thanks for the space to vent.

      • Em says:

        Some good news. Seems I have not been the only one deceived by this insurance group and I can get out of the contract by next month and go back to Medicare. What took place is legal though. GRRRR.

        • Carrie Anton says:

          Em, I’m happy you are able to go back to Medicare sooner than you thought. It’s hard to believe that deception like that is legal! I’m sorry you had to go through this but glad it is almost over.

          • Em says:

            I learned from this and can now let others to know-BEWARE!!
            More upset w/ myself for allowing yet another person deceive. Gets to where I don’t trust any one-working on getting back in the gray areas. Also sad to know I was not the only one.

          • Carrie Anton says:

            Don’t be hard on yourself. These people do this for a living and they are good at it. You weren’t the only one because they are experts at getting people to sign up with them. They make a lot of money by deceiving people. Unfortunately this happens all the time. It is the insurance regulators fault for letting this type of deception go on. I’m sorry you had to go through this!!

          • Em says:

            Hugs to you Carrie. Thing is I did get through it-the line from the movie, “Gremlins” comes to mind. “They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere”!
            Back to a couple of things I say that helps me get over the disgust. “This goes on their plate, not mine” and “can’t change, can’t fix it”. Two things I say to myself to slough off these type of things and other maladies. It helps me.

  2. Like any other condition, when it comes to depression the best approach is to treat the cause. It is not surprising that depression has a concomitant association with FM because they are often caused by the same thing, namely excess adrenaline. Adrenaline is a frequent cause of anger (think road rage), and internalization of anger is a frequent cause of depression. Adrenaline also causes muscles to be tense (it is the “fight-or-flight” hormone), which leads to a build-up of lactic acid in the muscles and tendon sheaths resulting in the pain of fibromyalgia. Cymbalta, by the way, is a NRI which actually increases adrenaline levels.
    The treatment, obviously, is to lower adrenaline levels naturally.

    • Carrie Anton says:

      Dr. Platt,

      Thank you for your comment. I’ve never heard this before but it makes a lot of sense. I’m interested in learning more. How do you lower adrenaline levels naturally?

      • Em says:

        If anyone does find out how to lower adrenaline please share! Mine has been in over-drive for waaaay to long!!!! Fight/flight mode for extended periods cannot be healthy. PTSD does not help either.

  3. Dear Carrie,Today my son is getting married.I have been sick all week with a respiratory infection.This on top of the fibro is quite a lot to handle.iIused to find great joy in these happy occasions,however,fibro has taken much of this joy away.It makes me so sad.I can barely participate in this celebration.I work on acceptance.That is about all I can DO for now.I’m not the person I used to be.Bottom line.Have to go through the grieving process,and hope to be ok with just being.Hard stuff!!! One day at a time.Blessings to everyone suffering with this chronic condition.

  4. Lara says:

    For me, depression has become a thing of the past with LDN (Low dose Naltrexone). I take 4.5 mg, at bedtime. My mood has improved dramatically. It has not helped much with my pain but it is worth taking for the depression, alone. Information on LDN may be found on LowDoseNaltrexone.org.

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