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How Are Anxiety and Fibromyalgia Connected?

Daniel Sher, MA, Clin Psychology
How Are Anxiety and Fibromyalgia Connected?

Health anxiety is a common problem when living with anxiety, and unfortunately the fear of developing some type of physical condition and the associated symptoms can lead to more anxiety. It becomes even more of a problem when anxiety actually does create some type of physical issue.

Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by chronic, widespread pain that tends to cause people to become over sensitive to physical stimuli - even when touched in various parts of their body. There are several connections between anxiety and fibromyalgia, and in some cases it may be classified as its own anxiety symptom.

Connections Between Anxiety and Fibromyalgia

One of the thoughts you need to try to fight when you have anxiety is the belief that your physical symptoms are based on a dangerous underlying health condition, rather than just anxiety. This way of thinking can create more anxiety, which makes it much harder to treat and may cause more physical symptoms. 

Fibromyalgia is one of many conditions that may be linked to this type of thinking. People feel pain, and they convince themselves that they don't have anxiety, and instead may be suffering from multiple sclerosis or some other condition that is causing their physical symptoms. The reality is that some of the symptoms that people with fibromyalgia experience may be triggered or worsened by anxiety.

How Anxiety May Contribute to, Cause, or Be Caused By Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is such a controversial condition that has stimulated a huge amount of debate within the medical community. The following points attempt to explain some of the many possible ways in which Fibromyalgia and anxiety may affect one another:

If these sound like they don't specifically narrow down the cause of the condition, that's because they don't. In fact, doctors are so unclear as to the cause of fibromyalgia and its link to anxiety and depression that there are currently no definitive answers for the disease independently or how anxiety relates.

But the relationship is there, and so it's absolutely possible that anxiety is causing or contributing to your fibromyalgia symptoms, or vice versa.

How to Stop Fibromyalgia From Anxiety

Treatments for the disorder vary. Many doctors will prescribe medications to manage the pain, but in general these are simply basic pain medications since of course the cause of fibromyalgia is still unknown, and thus hard to specifically treat. The treatments that are relevant to those with anxiety include:

There is no known cure for fibromyalgia, but researchers are doing their best to understand the condition as fully as possible. Until then, talk to your doctor, and make sure you're focusing on ways to reduce your anxiety and get relief from your anxiety symptoms.

Article Resources
  1. Cohen, Hagit, et al. Confirmation of an association between fibromyalgia and serotonin transporter promoter region (5-HTTLPR) polymorphism, and relationship to anxiety-related personality traits. Arthritis & Rheumatism 46.3 (2002): 845-847.
  2. Häuser, Winfried, and Mary-Ann Fitzcharles. Facts and myths pertaining to fibromyalgia. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience 20.1 (2018): 53-62.
  3. Kurtze, Nanna, and Sven Svebak.Fatigue and patterns of pain in fibromyalgia: Correlations with anxiety, depression and co-morbidity in a female county sample. British journal of medical psychology 74.4 (2001): 523-537.
  4. Thieme, Kati, Dennis C. Turk, and HertaFlor.Comorbid depression and anxiety in fibromyalgia syndrome: relationship to somatic and psychosocial variables. Psychosomatic Medicine 66.6 (2004): 837-844.
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