Fibromyalgia & Emotional Health

People with fibromyalgia face a unique challenge because they must combat not only the condition's disabling symptoms, but they face the stress of having an illness that is hard to diagnose, slow to respond to treatment and frequently not taken seriously by others because they look normal. This combination of factors often leaves those with fibromyalgia feeling helpless and hopeless.

Feelings of anxiety and depression are common among people with fibromyalgia, with an average of 18 percent of fibromyalgia patients suffering major depression at any point in time.1

The pain of fibromyalgia is not simply a physical entity; pain always has an emotional component, which varies from person to person.

To focus only on the cause and treatment of physical pain, ignores the profound impact of pain on your emotions. Everyone has their own perspective of pain. The same amount of pain that causes manageable discomfort in one person can be emotionally devastating to another.

The changes in your life that accompany fibromyalgia make pain even more difficult to handle. Most individuals find family support, the stability of a regular job, and the refreshment of physical activity help bolster them in overcoming life's emotional hurdles. But chronic pain and sleep deprivation can erode a person's normally dependable sources of stability, alienating friends and family. The resulting imbalance can make the original symptoms of pain, sleep loss, or social withdrawal even more distressful.

Some fibromyalgia sufferers find that seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist helps them to better manage the physical and emotional aspects of living with fibromyalgia. Seeking psychiatric assistance to cope with fibromyalgia, is not an admission that “it is all in your head." Instead, you are accepting that having such an illness is difficult to manage. For instance, patients with rheumatoid arthritis often benefit from psychological counseling even though their condition has obvious physical changes.

As a fibromyalgia sufferer, you may seek simple, short-term counseling sessions or intensive therapy. Whatever the case, your treatment will ultimately depend on your individual needs and the recommendations of your counselor.


  1. ”The relationship between fibromyalgia and major depressive disorder,” by J.I. Hudson and H.G. Pope, Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America, Controversies in Fibromyalgia and Related Conditions, Vol. 22, No. 2, May 1996, pages 285-303.

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Last updated: 5/13/2022