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The Suicide Risk in Fibromyalgia

 “Since I was 16, I’ve felt a black cloud hangs over me. Since then, I’ve taken pills 4 depression” – Amy Winehouse

Photo by Gloria Williams
Photo by Gloria Williams

“People with fibromyalgia don’t just have fibromyalgia,” the professor said.

Brilliant.

Can someone now tell it to the doctors who treat us?

Anyone else ever got that wide eyed stare from their doctor while going through your list of symptoms like we’re committing some kind of crime?

When I came across this report some time aback I wasn’t surprised at what it was getting it – that doctors treating fibromyalgia patients should be on the lookout for depression and suicide risk.

The statements came after a Danish study which found that while fibromyalgia sufferers, mainly women, tend to die at the rate expected for healthy women, a significant number of them die from suicide.

The researcher Dr. Lene Dreyer, a rheumatologist at Copenhagen University Hospital, thought that the high suicide rate could be linked to depression or to anti-depressants that carry risk of suicide.

And what about…?

She said “My opinion is that it has something to do with their pain.”

Yes sure. And what about the extreme exhaustion that shows no sign of letting up? And no seeming end to the slew of impacting symptoms that have stolen much of our lives? Many of us don’t/cannot work and have little social lives. Simple activities require great effort. That in itself takes the joy out of things.

It could also have something to do with the fact that many of us suffer from disbelieving doctors who also think we’re just hypochondriacs. Mmmhmmm.

And then some sufferers also have to deal with unsupportive loved ones.

More research clearly has to be done into this phenomenon and its links with depression. Some studies suggest that 50 – 70% of fibromyalgia patients have a lifetime history of depression.

Other links

Then vitamin D deficiency in fibromyalgia sufferers is also associated with depression and anxiety?

Past studies also revealed that many sufferers also have lower levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates our mood (keeps up happy) and sleep patterns.

Yet, despite the prevalence of depression among fibromyalgia sufferers, I find it most interesting that few ever initiate discussions on the issue. It almost never comes up in the online support groups I belong to. But when I bring it up, gradually, other sufferers start trickling in with responses of ‘me too.’

So why don’t we talk about depression?

We need to start discourse if we are to deal with it. I know firsthand that depression impacts on the severity of fibromyalgia symptoms. When depressed, my exhaustion levels are more crippling, I have flare ups of pain and whatever little sleep I get is taken away. Or, if I sleep, it’s disturbed. Rotten little twins if you consider it. They feed off eachother – fibromyalgia and depression.

With so many glaring lights pointing to the higher risk for depression and other psychiatric illnesses, all fibromyalgia sufferers should have a mental health assessment as part of their check up.

The ignorance and lack of support that many sufferers face would also undoubtedly swing us right into depression’s waiting arms.

People with fibromyalgia really don’t just have fibromyalgia.

Gentle hugs 🙂

potofcallaloo

Alisha Nurse is a curry-loving writer & comms professional who holds a Master of Arts Degree in Journalism (International) from the University of Westminster, London.
Get in touch with any feedback or questions via the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

39 thoughts on “The Suicide Risk in Fibromyalgia

  1. This article is written so accurately. Yes I agree ones should be more sympathetic.
    My own experience is a mixture of sympathy and absolute indifference. Education is the only way forward.

  2. It’s just gone on Lon enough.
    People who are free of illness are always sitting in judgment of the poor souls who have to live, day in and day out, with this wretched condition. 😢
    Me included.
    Let me say this….to make it quite clear….if you don’t know what it is like, keep your comments to yourselves. And for those who “think” they’ve had Fibromyalgia Disorder….and got “cured”…you probably didn’t have it in the first place, or it will most certainly return with a vengeance. The reality is that some people have only have it mildly. Which is good. But many, like me, are disabled and disheartened by it. And no you don’t have to be old to have it. Mine started very young. Please listen to us….we are dying every single day……..

    1. Donna, I am sorry you are struggling, but I want to remind you that we are never alone. It is hard trying to live life when you can only give a small percentage of your capabilities, efforts etc. We definitely need to raise more awareness to the general public, our families and employers. We are fighting a battle and we cannot give up until it is won. Hugs x

      1. Your comments,p, are truly appreciated. Life with just fms is hard ppl need to get it into the awareness of the world that its a really difficult disability to “live” with, if u can call it that.😢
        I would love to be free of the exhaustion that goes with it. I really now know that m e & f m s are inextricably linked….in my case at least.
        I hope you are enduring with dignity.
        I feel many of us don’t.
        Endure.
        Ppl don’t give us real dignity they sometimes try to, but because we often appear to be intact and”normal” we are not treated with the same empathy and kindness as those who may seem more disabled……when in fact, they may be less so.
        I use a wheelchair,a walking stick or a frame,depending on the day.
        Most days I am housebound.
        Do you endure in a similar fashion,dear ones?d x

        1. Thanks for all the love and support Donna. Please know that you are not alone and you have a friend here.
          I once needed a walking stick but I was to terrified of the surgery and steroid injections that doctor was speaking of, it drove me to persistence. I did physiotherapy for almost a year, changed my diet and lifestyle, got a job and all that worked positively on my feet (also got plantar fascitis). Most days I dont need the stick and I am thankful.
          Exhaustion is debilitating but I try my best to plod on as I have to work and that gives me a sense of obligation- a reason to get out of bed each morning when my body feels so damn broken.
          This is a terrible disability we live with but we can conquer. One day at a time. Love and hugs x

  3. Hi Poto,will remember your lovely words.
    We all need to keep supporting each other.
    I’m awake again. Need to get to sleep but it eludes me.😡
    Take care. Hope to blog again soon, if that’s the correct phrase.
    Keep fighting.
    Another day…another battle.
    D.x

    1. Yes I hope you will be able to blog again soon. I really appreciated hearing from you. Sleep is another major issue we have but we continue to fight in good faith:) Have a great week Donna:)

  4. I will blog when I can. We fms sufferers don’t always wa t to blog, don’t ever think I don’t want to. 3 years ago, someone v dear to us had fibromyalgia. A male. Died in his sleep only 50 years old. Can anyone tell me if you have known of anything like that? It’s scary to me.
    Thanks. Enjoy your blog.

    1. Hi Fred,
      Thanks very much for the compliment and stopping by. I’m truly sorry to hear about your friend. I’ve never heard of someone dying as a result of fibromyalgia but if course it is a highly stressful condition with so many other conditions for symptoms. It is scary to hear, especially since we know enough research isn’t happening into fms. Be encouraged:)

  5. ….what I mean is I would like to be able to blog more than I’ll be able to do.
    Glad we came across this site. It will help people a lot.
    Cheers . If anyone else can answer that question I would be so grateful.

    1. I completely get what you mean Fred. I really dislike not being able to give 100% and fibromyalgia makes it terribly hard when one is constamntly in pain and such debilitating exhaustion for starters.

  6. Just to wish everyone all the best as we all battle daily with FM’s and associated disorders. Is anyone else type 2 diabetic to boot? Due to the change in lifestyle and perhaps meds? Max.

      1. Hi potofcallaloo, and all, maz here to say if I can say one good thing is that I have a dear soul who contacts me daily and we Fibromites need a good friend we can trust . Hope you all have. And P, thanks for a brilliant blog.
        Maz.x

  7. Furthermore, this blog gives us a chance to help each other as much as possible. The pain is unbelievable most days for me. The lack of quality sleep makes it worse. Depression is the other evil. And I had a so called friend tell me to Get tough! Get tough?????? Are you Crazy? We are among the most TOUGH people on this earth,I’m certain of that! And we try so hard. Florence Nightingale, I believe,was one of us!!! Now that is tough!x 😊

    1. Thanks for the kind words on the blog Maz. It is encouraging to know my blogging helps. It’s terrible when people who are supposed to care say things that suggest we are lazy or weak. Never judge a man (or woman) if you can’t walk a mile in their shoes! We are tough yeah and I have faith that one day the world will be forced to acknowledge it 🙂 x

      1. Agreed! About faith, I believe that our Father will change things.
        Meanwhile, lets be honest with each other,help each other and maybe people who are unable to understand will one day? Who knows?
        I have had this prb since childhood….not sure….and I am kinda old now, compared to you!
        Bless you,😊. M.x

  8. Its a sad thing to say that you dread each day. But I do often. So I say a silent prayer and do all I can. “all I can”may be make cups of tea for the family or air some laundry. But lets face the day with pride in what we achieve.
    Hope you are bearing up.😫

    1. I know what you mean. I often dread each day, especially when I know I have alot to get done and I will likely only manage one thing. It is frustrating but I am learning to celebrate small victories, like combing my hair, having a shower, smiling at someone… Hope you’re well:) x

  9. My family doctor is forcing me to commit suicide. I live in an area where there is a severe shortage of family doctors. People wait yeas and years to get a family doctor. I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia by three different specialists. They all want my family doctor to increase my pain medication. My family doctor won’t because she doesn’t believe fibromyalgia exists. She refuses to follow the specialists directions. I have no friends or family. Zero support. I don’t know anyway out. I can barely get out of bed to use the toilet. Social services won’t help me because they don’t believe that fibromyalgia can get that bad. I have no hope. There is not cure. Plus, I am too broke to travel to another city. This is what evil and ignorant family doctors do. I am completely isolated and alone – despite people saying “you’re never alone”. What crap. Don’t ever speak to someone in severe pain with cliches. It makes there brains explode. Just keep your useless platitudes to yourself.

    1. Frances I am so sorry to hear that you are in this terrible terrible nightmare. You matter and your life matters, even though these awful people dont treat you like it. Please don’t let them win. I know it can be exhausting but keep holding on, you never know, a change can come in the ‘morning.’
      What area do you live? Perhaps if you tell us one of our friends who stop by might know of some organisation that might be able to help. We will stand with you and hope that you get the help and support you so need. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need to talk or there’s anything we can do. Hugs and prayers my friend.

  10. Yeah its hard not to be depressed when I have been ill since I was 14 and am now 35…Ive never been a healthy adult and could never work full time. I am also going to be homeless soon because I can never work enough to support myself. Not sure whats going to happen then but being homeless doesnt sound like a good time.

    1. I’m so sorry CJ. I almost ended up homeless a few years aback. It was terrifying. Where do you live? Sorry if this is a silly question but are you entitled to any social help? I wasn’t- still am not and I know that’s hard. It’s one awful awful cycle that we end up in when we live with chronic illness. Here to chat if you need a friend.

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