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Depression, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The Ties That Bind

When a person is diagnosed with a chronic illness such as cancer, fatigue, asthma, diabetes, fibromyalgia, or arthritis, they often feel that they aren’t able to live the lives they wanted to. At some point, patients with chronic illnesses often ask themselves “Am I depressed?.” While it’s reasonable to feel sad or frustrated when you have an illness that prevents you from living life to the fullest, the frustration can accumulate over time and turn into despair, anxiety, or depression.

Aside from the general feeling of powerlessness that often comes with having a chronic illness, patients may feel uncomfortable with the changes they have to cope with. They also feel anxious about how their overall health fares. There’s also the risk of getting fired from your current job and the likelihood that your partner will break up with you because of your diagnosis. The thought of these adverse events can erode your self-esteem, which, in turn, can lead to depression.

If you experience depression, it doesn’t mean you are less of a human being. Each one of us has strengths and weaknesses, and our health weaknesses don’t define who we are. Nevertheless, it’s important to know how you can constructively cope with depression and your chronic illness.

Depression in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome patients


Anyone with a chronic illness may develop depression, but those who have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are more prone to depression compared to patients who have other chronic diseases. The biochemical causes are still difficult to understand, but social and medical factors unique to fibromyalgia or CFS patients may increase the chances that these people will develop depression.

For one, fibromyalgia, CFS, and depression patients who have none of these two illnesses lack social support and acceptance from their family, friends, and even the medical community. Many treatments appear not to work in CFS and fibromyalgia patients, which in turn fuels their pessimism. The fact that CFS and fibromyalgia are difficult to diagnose and the causes behind these illnesses are still being studied makes the situation for patients who suffer these illnesses more challenging.

Since the symptoms of depression, CFS, and fibromyalgia frequently overlap, even medical and psychological professionals tend to make mistakes in their diagnoses and assumptions. This is unsurprising considering the magnitude and complexity of the problem and underlying causes involved. The research community continues to gather data and experiments to increase medical and psychological professionals’ understanding of these interrelated illnesses.

But what makes fibromyalgia and CFS patients more likely to become depressed compared to their fellow patients? The reason behind this is that each person is unique and their experiences and capacities are unequal. However, those who suffer from depression must not be looked at as someone who is ‘defective;’ their depression must be viewed in a more holistic context that doesn’t reduce these patients’ personhoods and tie their humanity to their illness.



Regardless of how depression, fibromyalgia, and CFS are connected, the main point is to have the depressive symptoms treated or managed. One of the treatments used to help patients cope with depression is antidepressants. While there are many kinds of antidepressants, the general principle behind all of these treatments is that they alter your brain chemistry in a way that will make you feel better physically and emotionally. These drugs aren’t perfect; for some people, side-effects such as sleepiness and acne may manifest, which is why it is crucial for patients to talk to their doctor to know which kind of antidepressant best suits them.

In fibromyalgia patients, antidepressants are combined with physical therapy so that these people will help recover control and function over their body despite the pain they are experiencing. CFS patients, on the other hand, may combine antidepressants with lifestyle changes such as reducing caffeine and sugar intake and improving sleep hygiene.

Patients must remember that antidepressants aren’t the solution to their problems; it only helps them cope.

They have to manage their expectations through counseling, psychotherapy, and even mindfulness meditation. With a multi-pronged strategy that involves a combination of antidepressants, lifestyle change, psychotherapy and mindfulness, CFS, fibromyalgia, and depression, patients can improve their outlook in life despite the limitations imposed on them by their chronic illness.

Transformation Health are experts in natural medicine and holistic therapy. If you're looking for a naturopath in Brisbane then why not contact us, we're here to help!



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