Fibromyalgia Patients More Likely to Experience Depression and Anxiety

Pharmacy Times, August 2016 Pain Awareness, Volume 82, Issue 8

A significant proportion of patients with fibromyalgia also suffer from depression and anxiety, according to the results of a recent study.

A significant proportion of patients with fibromyalgia also suffer from depression and anxiety, according to the results of a recent study.

The online survey, conducted by chronic illness support community NewLifeOutlook, polled 671 patients who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, the vast majority of whom were women 35 years and older. The survey results revealed that over 63% of respondents had been given a diagnosis of depression, whereas 58% had been given a diagnosis of anxiety; these percentages are considerably higher than those found in the general population, as about 18% of all American adults have been given a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, and 6.6% have experienced a major depressive episode in the past 12 months, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health.

One particular difficulty expressed by survey respondents was that many of their family members, friends, and health care providers failed to understand the legitimacy of their fibromyalgia. This had a notable effect on when they were formally given a diagnosis of the condition: only 8% of participants received a diagnosis within a year after first experiencing symptoms, whereas nearly 30% received a diagnosis more than 5 years after symptoms arose.

According to counselor Eric Patterson, LPC, the relationship between fibromyalgia and mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, is often reciprocal. “The presence of one makes the other worse,” Patterson stated in a NewLifeOutlook press release. “Physical fibromyalgia symptoms amplify mental illness, and then the added stress from mental health complaints fuels an increase in physical symptoms.”