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.”