If you are living with the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, it should probably come as no surprise to you that fibromyalgia and depression often go hand in hand. Many people with fibromyalgia suffer from more than the physical symptoms associated with the disease but also suffer from emotional symptoms such as depression and anxiety.
The reasons why these things are related are not yet completely clear and yet researchers are actively trying to find the connection.
Scientific Reasons Why Fibromyalgia And Depression Might Be Related
The fact that depression and fibromyalgia related is indisputable. What scientists do not yet know for sure is why the two are so intricately intertwined. Some believe that the answer lies in the neurotransmitters in your brain.
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers produced in the brain that have functions throughout the body. There are many different kinds of neurotransmitters that function in different areas of the brain. The neurotransmitter that doctors are looking at when it comes to fibromyalgia and depression is called serotonin.
Serotonin is produced by the brain and is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for having an improved mood. People who do not make enough serotonin will feel both depressed and anxious. In some research studies, it has been discovered that people with fibromyalgia also do not have enough serotonin in their brain.
Whether the lack of serotonin also contributes to the perception of pain is not yet clear. The lack of serotonin in the brain may be causing both depressive symptoms and the fibromyalgia symptoms.
This may be why people with fibromyalgia experience a reduction in pain when they take antidepressants that raise serotonin levels. Many of the older antidepressants, called tricyclic antidepressants, are often used in chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia with some success in lifting both the depression and easing the pain.
The newer antidepressants have a lesser connection to pain relief but are used in some people with fibromyalgia to treat depressive symptoms. The newer antidepressants have fewer side effects than the older antidepressants but they are beneficial in people who have fibromyalgia associated with depression.
It also explains why people with fibromyalgia get some relief of their pain when they take 5 HTP. This is a compound that is a precursor to serotonin and may increase the serotonin levels in the brain. Taking five HTP is generally considered as being safe and, if it raises serotonin levels, there will be an improvement in both depressive symptoms and in fibromyalgia symptoms.
Things You Can Do To Improve Depression And Fibromyalgia Symptoms
When you live with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia, just the pain alone may trigger you to be depressed. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve both your symptoms of pain and symptoms of depression.
Some things you can do include the following:
- Have a gentle exercise routine. Having fibromyalgia does not mean you cannot exercise. Even gentle stretching exercises will ease your pain and improve your mood. Exercises like yoga, tai chi, and qi gong are East Asian forms of exercise that are known to decrease stress, improve your mood, and improve your perception of pain. You can learn these forms of exercise at your local health club or through DVDs; you buy on the Internet or at a store. They are gentle on the joints and have emotional advantages over other types of exercises you might do.
- Take an antidepressant or supplement with 5 HTP. As mentioned above, people with fibromyalgia tend to have less pain and less depressive symptoms if they have higher levels of serotonin in their brain. If you choose to take five HTP, you can get it at a pharmacy or health store. If you decide to take an antidepressant medication, you will need a prescription from your doctor in order to take it. Do not take 5 HTP and an antidepressant together as that can be too much.
- Reduce stress levels. Fibromyalgia is known to be worse under situations of increased stress. The more you can do to decrease your stress levels, the better your depression will be, and the less pain you will perceive.
- See a therapist that can help you deal with the emotional consequences of chronic pain and all the lifestyle side effects that you may endure because of your fibromyalgia. Positive affirmations can help you reset your mind and empower you by changing your perceptions of pain and how your life is affected by it. Your perception is key in improving your outlook towards the positive that in turn helps alleviate and prevent depression. Stay well and take care!