Life can be a struggle for anyone. But when you have a chronic disease such as fibromyalgia, it can sometimes seem unbearable. And often, controlling the mental health aspect of a chronic illness can be as important as the physical aspect.
After all, the mental health problems suffered by people with fibromyalgia can have tragic consequences. And while fibromyalgia itself cannot kill you, the mental cost that it entails can. Suicide rates in people with fibromyalgia are much higher than average.
Clearly, taking care of your mental well-being is important if you have fibromyalgia. But how do you manage your mental health when you suffer from such a terrible disease?
MANAGING MENTAL HEALTH WHEN YOU HAVE FIBROMIALGIA
First, let’s admit that it is completely understandable that people with fibro feel depressed. Usually, we think that depression is something that people suffer without an obvious cause. And that is often the case. Depression can be caused by many things, including an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that leads to long-term depression, even when the events in your life generally go well.
And many people with fibromyalgia can have this type of depression. But there is also another form of depression that is common in people with fibromyalgia. The most familiar term for that is “situational depression.” Simply put, it is a form of depression caused by a reaction to the events in your life.
And when you consider what a person with fibromyalgia experiences on a daily basis, it would be surprising if they did not experience this type of depression sometimes. They have a reason to be depressed when they have chronic pain.
The truth is, of course, that while there are ways to control fibromyalgia symptoms, there is no way to get rid of them completely. Instead, people with fibromyalgia have to find ways to maintain their mental health despite them.
It is not an easy answer. And at a time when there seems to be a pill for almost anything, the idea that the medical community cannot cure you can be something difficult to accept. But it is something that everyone who has fibromyalgia comes to understand from the beginning.
However, one of the most difficult parts of living with fibromyalgia is that sometimes the people around you expect you to “get over it” or offer you some advice on how you can heal yourself with a fake remedy. Sometimes it seems that the only thing nobody wants to accept is that people with fibromyalgia in their life are really suffering and that they can’t do much about it.
The first step in improving your mental health is to realize that it is okay to be depressed. It is not your fault, and you don’t have to hide how much you are suffering for others to make your life easier. If you have chronic pain, sometimes you will get depressed. It is a natural reaction to the situation in which you find yourself. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it, including yourself.
After all, people who do not have fibromyalgia cannot really understand what is happening. And if they were in your position, they would be going through the same emotions. They have no right to make you feel bad about the fact that you are suffering.
At the same time, the people who handle fibromyalgia best are those who realize that, at some point, they must take care of their own health. There is simply no other way to do it. And the good news is that there are several things you can do to improve your mental health when you have fibromyalgia.
TIPS FOR IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH
There is still no cure for fibromyalgia. Therefore, you will not be able to completely fix the things in your life that are depressing you. But you can do some things to improve them. And if that sounds daunting, remember that you don’t have to do it alone.
For example, one of the most common problems that people with fibromyalgia suffer is that they do not feel that their medications are working. And the fact is that sometimes, they don’t. There are few medications specifically designed to treat fibromyalgia, which means that doctors often prescribe medications for other conditions such as depression to treat the condition. And these work differently for different people.
If the medications you are taking do not work, tell your doctor. It can be as simple as trying new medications until you find one that works for you.
But it might also be a good idea to try another doctor. The treatment of fibromyalgia sometimes requires a doctor who specializes in the disease, so consider looking for doctors in your area who have experience in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Or you can try a chronic pain clinic, where staff health professionals may have more experience in treating chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia.
Of course, there are times when the physical symptoms of fibromyalgia are not the only problems you face. Fibromyalgia can affect your relationships with friends or loved ones, and can make work difficult, leading to a lot of financial stress.
Fortunately, there are also professionals who specialize in treating these problems. If you are concerned that your relationship with a spouse is suffering, consider consulting a marriage counselor. They can help you solve some of the problems you might face.
If managing your job responsibilities or trying to find a job is discouraging you, consider seeing an occupational therapist. Occupational therapists work with people with chronic health conditions to find jobs that work around their health problems and provide therapies that can help them join the workforce.
Often, one of the best ways to control depression caused by fibromyalgia is exercise. Of course, if you have had fibromyalgia for a while, you are probably tired of hearing this advice. After all, it is difficult to exercise when you are constantly tired and in pain, and the effort can make your symptoms worse.
That is completely understandable. But there is a lot of evidence that even light exercise can significantly improve fibromyalgia symptoms and mental health. Start slowly, with a short walk. Build up to more advanced forms of exercise. Or try another low impact alternative like yoga.
Again, consider working with a professional therapist who has experience helping people with chronic conditions to exercise and develop a healthy diet. They can advise you on your situation.
A large part of managing your mental health when you have fibromyalgia is to look for people who can help you and learn to deal with people who only make your life worse.
More than anything, you are fighting depression or suicidal thoughts, talk to a mental health professional. It is not a situation that you should try to handle on your own.