Fibromyalgia, a disease known as “muscle pain”, is characterized by chronic muscle and skeletal pain and is characterized by hypersensitivity, severe sleep disturbances leading to fatigue, and sometimes accompanied by mood swings – depression and anxiety, as well as memory.
The disease affects from 2 to 4 percent of the population, about 80% of patients are women. Although the disease appears in all age ranges, including children, it usually appears more often in the 20s and older and is especially common in the 50s.
It has been estimated that fibromyalgia is associated with a number of genetic and environmental risk factors, and although it is now known that the relationship between stress and the development of fibromyalgia is complex and that it is not a syndrome that is simply “mental”, mental stress can be risk factor.
Mention of the link between mental stress and fibromyalgia can be found in a number of studies that suggest that the disease can develop against the background of physical or mental trauma or against the background of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Post-trauma can be the result of cases of sabotage, falls or constant stress as a result of participation in hostilities, the loss of a loved one, bereavement in the family, and so on. One study found, for example, that abused children had a higher propensity to develop fibromyalgia when they reached adulthood. In another U.S. study of 22 blue-diagnosed U.S. military veterans, it was found that 91% of them reported sexual trauma in the military, and 68% of them reported sexual harassment.
In the early 2000s, an interesting study was conducted in Israel on the victims of the 2005 Revadim railway accident, in which seven people died and about 200 were injured. The results of the study showed that 15% of the survivors of the accident developed symptoms of the disease. These survivors suffered more than other survivors due to memories of the event, avoidance of situations associated with the event, such as skipping a train ride and sleep disturbances, symptoms that characterize post-traumatic stress disorder.
How Stress or Tension Causes Fibromyalgia
It appears that exposure to trauma affects how the brain responds to pain and stress, and this leads to an increase in the pain transmission patterns that characterize the disease.
Studies show that many patients develop depression and anxiety as a symptom of fibromyalgia.
What are effective treatments for fibromyalgia?
Due to the significant body-mind connection in fibromyalgia, a number of mental therapies have been developed over the years to alleviate the condition of patients.
The most common and accepted treatment is short-term cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been shown to be effective in improving the symptoms of the disease. The explanation for this is that cognitive-behavioral therapy can help change negative thought patterns and replace them with positive ones, thereby changing the brain’s processing of pain.
Another treatment is called MBSR – Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and uses to try to change the shape of annoying thoughts.
OBT stands for Operant Behavioral Therapy, a treatment that focuses on pain-related behavioral patterns and their reduction.
In recent years, a number of medical reports have emerged suggesting that therapies with a holistic approach to body and mind that include a combination of meditation and movement, such as yoga, tai chi, or qigong, are effective in treating disease. These studies have shown that the treatment significantly helps improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, including reducing pain, improving sleep quality, and improving patients’ physical and metabolic function.
Medication, against the backdrop of a psychiatric disease link, options include antidepressants and anxiety medications from the SNRI family. These drugs work by inhibiting the absorption of two brain chemicals, serotonin and norepinephrine, that affect mood and thus actually increase the concentration of these chemicals in the brain. In patients with fibromyalgia, these drugs have been found to have another benefit, as well as being effective against symptoms of pain and fatigue. These are mostly situations in which the patient is not diagnosed with depression, and these drugs are likely to affect the brain’s pain processing in these patients and thus help alleviate the sensation of diffuse pain. To treat sleep disorders and fatigue, you can use an antidepressant from the tricyclic family of compounds called amitriptyline in low doses. In addition, a drug called pregabalin, developed to treat neuropathic pain, has been shown to be effective in fibromyalgia by relieving pain and improving sleep quality.