I have been having a distressing, verbally attacking posting conversation about Fibromyalgia and the link to mood disorders these last few days. Unfortunately, this has occurred in a “safe” post forum, where discussions like these are not productive or helpful for the general needs of Peers. I believe I started this problem by stating that there was no empirical research that connected these disorders. I generally point out items I think lead Peers down a road that may increase either disinformation or fear of new and different symptoms. I don’t do this to be a know-it-all and this time I was called out onto the posting “mat” about my statement by the original poster. I was informed that I was wrong and that as someone who is a therapist, I should check out my DSM-IV book. I apologized for the second time to the other Peer and posted I would not engage in this on this space anymore. All this did spark my interest and I Googled the research available on this topic.
I did indeed find some research. One was a research article that was empirical, from 2008, another was always the always reliable information from the NCBI and a general jargon piece on PyschCentral’s site. The other two research articles I found on Google, not in my professional peer-reviewed journals, are simply about depression in general. Here is what I gathered from the 2008 article and the generally similar information from the NCBI (NCBI offers up-to-date information about Fibromyalgia, this focused on the topic I researched tonight). People with Fibromyalgia and Mood Disorders both have similar problems with their neuroendocrine and autonomic systems responding as normal, along with possible genetic factors, environmental factors and social factors that can trigger any one of these conditions. The problem with the 2008 article is this; the p= numbers are very low. A normal empirical connection is considered .05 in research. There has also been much debate about how the DSM is used in general since the newer DSM-5 came out, with opponents contending that, among other disorders, even normal sadness can be pathologized. That does not mean the DSM-IV does not have important role in understanding mental health; it is the best empirical data in one place for mental health therapists to begin with in determining mental health issues that are currently beyond what their peers are experiencing.
I definitely can see a connection in his hypothesis. And, I do use the DSM-IV but the starting diagnosis should be cautionary as the person’s situation may change as their sadness clears up; without medications. *(This is only my opinion). As a Peer with chronic pain I have discussed depressed days and stated that depression can cause physical pain. We can all think of many co-existing syndromes and/or illnesses, beyond Fibromyalgia and Mood Disorders. An example would be depression combined with overeating and pain in the persons knees. A person could have arthritis and a mood disorder, heart problems and Fibromyalgia.
As time goes on we may find that there is a strong connection to these two syndromes/disorders. This is why there is always a reason to have your doctor take your full history when you experience any syndrome or illness. Just because you suffer from A doesn’t mean you don’t also have B and C. A person who begins to experience any new symptoms should always seek medical attention, not advice from this blog, a forum or from Google only! We should work closely with the doctor, creating a relationship that lends itself to weeding in/out all possible issues.
I also was called out on the DSM-IV and whether I knew my diagnosis; I do. I have seen many depressed, hospitalized persons with Fibromyalgia. But, not a high number of both in one person. Just like a General practitioner or Pain Management Specialist, I take a full history of the patient, current and past social background and their family history. I have discussed that each of us is unique in our symptom presentation. I found that during my year in the hospital and I find a large difference in one Peer and others in their posts, blogs and in person. Our experiences as we journey towards living Well are unique.
It has been previously posted in my blog that new, empirical research shows dysfunction in our brains, central nervous system and muscles. I was surprised by this post attack to hear that mood disorders were strongly linked to Fibromyalgia. There were two components mentioned in the 2008 research, the neuron receptors in our brains and our autonomic system, that are the same in both syndromes. Fibromyalgia survivors have an additional dysfunction, our central nervous system. Also discussed in both resources were genetics, social and environmental factors.
Genetics have been a marker for a multitude of syndromes and diseases for a while now. Social and environmental circumstances as well. I am taking the time tonight to delve into this in order to inform my Peers about this thought process. The more we know the more we can learn about chronic pain, differing presentations and what may fit for our unique symptoms. Perhaps these two similar dysfunctions helped to jump-start the new research that includes all three areas and inform doctors to always closely monitor their patients health history. I am truly sorry that the other person became so distraught about it all, this is never my intention. I am grateful that it allowed me to find out about this concept and do research about depression and Fibromyalgia similarities.
One last item is the debate about anxiety and Fibromyalgia survivors. I have had some anxiety my whole life, who hasn’t? One of my parents had overwhelming anxiety most of their lives. I do not think I have ever met a person going through difficult situations who doesn’t have some degree of anxiety. I will leave this for you to think about, and, research if you desire.
Please see your doctor and do your own research. Being informed by doing your own research is the best method to decide what fits for you, makes sense to you and what tools you will want in toolkit.
Links, Information and small rant n rave for the night, (tomorrow, CDC)
Lucinda Tart, Fibromyalgia Peer Advocate/Life Skills Advisor
*This blog is never meant to replace a visit to a professional. I am in no way giving out professional advice, even if I use my professional as my opinion in a post.