The Office of Dr. Brad Shook

Anxiety Disorders Are Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia! by Carol Ryland

If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, then you already know that it is chronic illness featuring pain, with tender points on the body that hurt in response to the lightest pressure… and extreme fatigue. Also, you’re probably already well aware of the sleep issues, mental fog, and dozens of other symptoms that come with this debilitating syndrome. What you may not be aware of is just how common anxiety disorders are for fibromyalgia sufferers. Approximately twenty percent of fibromyalgia sufferers also suffer from “mood disorders”… either anxiety or depression… or both.

Actually, anxiety is a common problem today, affecting between 10 and 20 percent of Americans… that’s around 4 million people. Just as with fibromyalgia, anxiety disorders are more common in women than men and are most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 18 and 40.

As a fibromyalgia sufferer, you may have already realized that you feel more anxious or tense now than you did before your symptoms fully materialized and were diagnosed. Anxiety disorders can be very difficult to deal with… everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their life. But anxiety disorders are especially frustrating for people with fibromyalgia because it exacerbates fibromyalgia symptoms and triggers episodes of symptom flare ups.

We are all familiar with the anxiety that comes with major life events like making important business presentations and taking final exams. At these times, the body reacts with sweating, headaches and even nausea. However, to some fibromyalgia sufferers, these symptoms may be considered to be mild. Because fibromyalgia increased their reactions which may also include muscle pain and stiffness, light-headedness, dizziness, numbness and tingling in the extremities, heart palpitations, drop in blood pressure, tremors or trembling, mental fog and memory problems, blind spots in vision, panic attacks… virtually every bizarre symptom of fibromyalgia occurring on a high level, simultaneously.

The connection between fibromyalgia and anxiety disorders is well documented and under study. Research suggests that people with both fibromyalgia and anxiety disorders are hypersensitive to stimuli that wouldn’t normally affect other people. Theories about the reasons include chemical imbalances in the brain (in neurotransmitters like serotonin), brain anomalies, central nervous system dysfunctions, reduced blood flow to the brain’s pain receptors, genetic issues (although no specific gene has been identified), and so on. It isn’t known why fibromyalgia patients suffer so much from anxiety disorders but research has suggested that the fibromyalgia sufferer’s low serotonin levels could be responsible for a combination of the symptoms: pain, depression and anxiety.

Whatever the cause of the syndrome, the presence of anxiety disorders caused by any physical or psychological stress, makes the symptoms of fibromyalgia more severe and more difficult to treat. Anxiety disorders in fibromyalgia patients must be recognized and addressed for any treatment program to be effective.

Symptoms of Anxiety…

If you find yourself worrying constantly about your work, finances, or health issues, and/or if you are overly anxious about simple day-to-day responsibilities… you are experiencing anxiety. Many sufferers describe the condition as feeling constantly “on edge”. When you have these anxious feelings, you may also experience physical symptoms as well as sleep disturbances, the inability to concentrate, and irritability.

In instances of severe anxiety disorders, symptoms can come in the form of panic attacks which is the sudden onset of intense feelings of fear and discomfort in a given situation. Usually lasting for up to ten minutes, panic attacks also called anxiety attacks, may occur without warning or be brought about by a specific situation. A panic attack sufferer might feel that they are losing control or feel the need to escape. The symptoms are more severe including dizziness, choking, and shortness of breath. When anxiety disorders accompany fibromyalgia, the sufferer is more likely to also have frequent and prolonged periods of anxiety and develop migraine headaches and severe widespread muscle pain.

There are many drugs used in the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms, some are opioids, and most are not approved by the FDA for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms since we don’t even really know the cause. However, tricyclic and SSRI anti-depressants may be effective in treating anxiety disorders in fibromyalgia sufferers… the trick seems to be finding a combination of medications that work for the individual, and then finding the right balance, avoiding the potential undesirable side-effects.

This can be a frustrating and tedious process for patients and doctors alike, but natural approaches can also be helpful. An SSRI-type of medication, 5-HTP is from a natural plant-based source with few side-effects, and can be used in place of traditional drugs under your doctor’s supervision. Along with a safe, natural nutritional plan to repair damage done by the body’s immune system from the fibromyalgia, sufferers can experience tremendous relief and even elimination of fibromyalgia and anxiety disorder symptoms. As a fibromyalgia survivor myself, I can tell you that the natural approach works! For more information about natural treatment of fibromyalgia and anxiety disorders, contact me now by clicking on one of the links below.

Carol Ryland is the President of a successful health and wellness business, dedicated to educating and mentoring individuals in the natural treatment of illnesses. Writer of many articles on fibromyalgia and related topics, she is a fibromyalgia survivor with a deep personal understanding of the syndrome and its devastating effects.

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