Personality Disorders Prevalent Among Fibromyalgia Patients, Study Suggests

Personality Disorders Prevalent Among Fibromyalgia Patients, Study Suggests

Personality disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive, avoidant, and histrionic behaviors, are prevalent comorbidities among patients with diagnosed fibromyalgia.

This finding was reported in the report, “Prevalence of personality disorders in patients with fibromyalgia: a brief review,” published in the journal Primary Health Care Research & Development.

Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain that can induce severe physical, psychological, and emotional distress. Although many advances have been made to improve the knowledge of its underlying cause, the diagnosis of fibromyalgia remains a challenge for many patients and clinicians.

To better improve diagnosis and care, it is necessary for clinicians to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of the disease.

A clinical evaluation of fibromyalgia patients has revealed that throughout life they often present signs of some psychiatric disorders. Indeed, many fibromyalgia patients have been described as perfectionists, introspective, demanding, and in some cases exhausting to manage.

Overall, these psychological traits can have a major impact on patients, leading to a worsening functional status and higher healthcare-associated costs.

“Although clinicians typically recognize certain personality characteristics or traits that can be associated with fibromyalgia, there is still a clear lack of studies about personality disorders in patients with fibromyalgia,” the researchers wrote.

The team reviewed the available literature up to February 2017, finding a total of 10 studies that addressed the prevalence of personality disorders in fibromyalgia patients.

A previous study showed that personality disorders are common in between 6 to 13 percent of the general population. In contrast, the researchers found that the prevalence of these disorders affect between 8.7 to 96.7 percent of fibromyalgia patients.

This suggests that “the proportion of personality disorders diagnosed in patients with fibromyalgia appears far greater than that found in the general population,” researchers wrote.

According to the published data, the most common personality disorders in fibromyalgia patients are those classified as Cluster C disorders, which include avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. All these disorders share common features of anxiety and fear.

It is still unclear what links fibromyalgia and personality disorders. Additional studies specifically designed to address the underlying neurobiological mechanism of fibromyalgia are needed.

“As the symptoms of fibromyalgia are related to stresses, an optimal treatment needs to be an ongoing process and has to be based on a patient-centered approach,” the team concluded. “We suggest that is very useful to evaluate personality disorders in patients with fibromyalgia systematically, in order to improve the understanding, assessment, and treatment of this clinical condition.”

17 comments

  1. J Lemley says:

    Well, after this delightful article on Personality Disorders in Patients with Fibro, you won’t need too worry about me buying your publication. I’m too mentally disturbed to read it!

    • patricia fraser says:

      got that right these people must be getting grants for writing this unhelpful info. Most fibro patients are already depressed to begin with then they get the physical CHALLENGES (if I hear that word one more time)

  2. zigadenus says:

    This is quite unhelpful. We have had more than enough trouble getting physicians to take us seriously without an unsubstantiated article claiming that we are “nuts” after all. One study does not make a blanket diagnosis applicable.

    • patricia fraser says:

      I have noticed only limited studies done and all of a sudden it is the gospel i.e. study done with 15 patients, etc. there is no blanket diagnosis and all these studies do not take into account how NUTS nuts this disease is, here today, gone tomorrow. Try and make plans with this monster.

    • Maggie says:

      Having a personality disorder does NOT mean we’re ‘nuts’. Way to go continuing the stigma those of us with PDs face daily. Throw fibromyalgia into the mix and I think you’ll find your struggles pale in significance. Consider your words next time.

  3. Amy Daum says:

    I tried to read this “report” and all I could find was the abstract, which was unhelpful. And what were the 10 studies that they reviewed to come up with this? And evidently one of these studies shows that 96% of people with fibro have a personality disorder? That is literally impossible. Also, without these studies having evaluated people prior to developing fibro, and then after, it’s not useful data either, because guess what? Developing a chronic condition that causes pain & fatigue can lead to fear, anxiety and disorders related to them. So even if there is a higher rate of PDs, it’s very possible that those developed as a response to the fibro. Certainly we have higher rates of depression & anxiety – not a surprise.

    While I feel that information is power, I believe this is crap science, and that’s being charitable. And presenting it to an audience already often stigmatized as “crazy” is irresponsible. You need to try harder.

  4. Ruth Larson says:

    You may want to read up on the ACE – adverse childhood experiences scale. Children who grow up in traumatic homes tend to go on and develop chronic health conditions, such as fibromyalgia. Children who grow up in traumatic homes also tend to go on and develop personality disorders – that is the link. I’ve been a mental health counselor, childhood trauma survivor, and now managing fibromyalgia.

    • Pamula Furness says:

      Apart from the mental health counsellor, you have had the same experience as me. I could not agree with you more, we have had enough to deal with already, being stigmatised as well is adding insult to injury in my humble opinion. Blessings to you, I’m still coming to terms with my challenging past, and hope you have yours under control x

  5. NYM says:

    This is the most thoughtful and least defensive comment here. Some of the reactions seem to support the article’s inability to be sure of what the actual percentage is because some goes unreported or denied due to feelings of insecurity or anger. Most of these comments do seem to have some sort of troubled personality based on the inability to rationalize and instead take it personal.

  6. Nikki says:

    That is interesting. I am a perfectionist and introspective but very openminded to treatments. And too easygoing when it comes to doctors because I am pretty passive. But I was diagnosed with comorbid depression, so there is that tidbit to reflect on certainly. I remember when they used to speculate on people with FM being more type A personalities and I rather thought that was a generalization really. Too broad and too basic. And I am neither A or B, but somewhere in the middle, which I suspect a lot of people are. But I have often reflected on Personality and how we cope with pain and illness… as in our habitual response to illness based on our personality. However, I don’t think there can be a correlation there to FM specifically. Or I doubt it anyway. But to certain mental health conditions, yes, we have more risk factors certainly. I will peruse the studies when my vertigo abates enough for me to be able to read a bit more clearly.

  7. Katherine Johnson says:

    This kinds of articles are not only useless, they are damaging. A great example of the serious deficits in medical reporting. Sadly these articles are common on Fibromyalgia News Today, making them just one more obstacle to care, reinforcing debunk theories that don’t rise to the level of credible, harming people with Fibromyalgia instead of actually helping anyone with this disease. This article, based on the rereading other limited studies, makes blanket defamatory and pejorative statements and is not only of no use from a therapeutic perspective, it’s damaging to people struggling with this illness, as just another reinforcement of the old “it’s all in your head” BS. Too bad they clearly don’t curate any of this material, but just publish this garbage just to have something to print, regardless of it’s credibility or helpfulness.

  8. Gryfalcon says:

    Psychologists have been abusing fibromyalgia patients and patients with many other REAL PHYSICAL MEDICAL DISORDERS for centuries, in their efforts to grab a little market share and some limelight. It’s no surprise to see them up to their old tricks, yet again.

    This research is complete bullshit. Psychologists should take their proper place among astrologers and tea leaf readers. Science, this is NOT.

    Remember Justina Pelletier. It’s time to crack down on these charlatans!

  9. Mickie Nice says:

    I have a problem with Fibromyalgia News Today. Sometimes it seems as though they are not on the same side as the people who suffer from this illness. There is a feeling of blaming the patient for some deficiency of personality or character. I’ve noticed in in other articles associated or from FNT. I would never pay for this service. I read it out of curiosity knowing that there will often be an article which supports psychiatric institutions. FNT does not seem supportive of those who suffer and oftentimes actually antagonistic. Maybe I’m paranoid though I didn’t see that condition listed in today’s article.

  10. Alan Gurwitt, MD says:

    This paper is utter nonsense. It fails to distinguish between whether the psychological symptoms appear before or after the onset of FM. This has been going on for at least 35 years and fails to recognize new research showing small fiber neuropathy.The attempts over generations to link special personality disorders to a specific organic illness has not been succesful.

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