“Since I was 16, I’ve felt a black cloud hangs over me. Since then, I’ve taken pills 4 depression” – Amy Winehouse
“People with fibromyalgia don’t just have fibromyalgia,” the professor said.
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.
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 🙂