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Major depression commonly coexists in chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia. Depression increases the risk of developing chronic pain. Chronic pain increases the risk of being depressed. It’s a vicious cycle – pain worsens symptoms of depression, and the depression worsens feelings of pain.
Living with a chronic illness can cause tremendous life changes. Little by little things start to slip away. Maybe you can no longer work, no longer enjoy hobbies and passions, maybe friends have stopped calling. Family may even slip away.
Stress, the severity of your symptoms, strained relationships, financial pressures and uncertainty about your future. How can we NOT go through periods of depression?
It’s normal to have low periods when you are trying to adjust to living with fibromyalgia. But depression isn’t just about feeling a little blue. Major depression, once referred to as clinical depression, is a chronic, debilitating sadness that can affect all areas of your life.
People with fibromyalgia are at particular risk of developing depression.
The Link Between Major Depression & Fibromyalgia
Research finds that the high rates of major depression disorder (MMD) in people with fibromyalgia (FM) and neuropathic pain (NeP} likely result from the fact that these disorders share genetic and environmental factors. MDD, NeP and FM are all associated with neuroplastic changes in the central nervous system (CNS).
Moreover, overwhelming evidence suggests that chronic pain and depression do more than co-occur-they also promote the development of each other, such that chronic pain is strong predictor of developing major depression, and vice versa.
The study reports that patients with fibromyalgia are at a significantly higher risk of developing Major Depressive Disorder and related psychiatric conditions.
Patients with FM were 4.3 times more likely than healthy control subjects to develop MDD at some point in their lives and 4.7 times more likely to develop an anxiety disorder.
Signs of Major Depression
Depression occurring with chronic illness is often overlooked. Fibromyalgia symptoms are very similar to those of depression. Signs of depression with chronic pain may include:
- decreased energy
- difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- loss of interest in nearly all activities
- persistent sad or anxious mood
- uncontrollable tearfullness
- feelings of hopelessness, irritability, or guilt
- thoughts of suicide
Some people with fibromyalgia KNOW they are depressed and others may not. Depression often gets worse if it isn’t treated and can linger for weeks, months or even years.
If you feel you are depressed, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as you can. If you’re reluctant to seek treatment, talk to a friend or loved one, a health care professional, a faith leader, or someone else you trust.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, get help right away.