Fibromyalgia and Stress

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According to the American Institute of Stress, approximately 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. 73% of people say they regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress. To a “normal” person, this can be somewhat manageable. However, to a person dealing with fibromyalgia, our bodies are always under added, constant stress, so anything additional can be debilitating.

Sometimes a small hiccup in the day can cause a little stress, but you can easily brush it off and move on. Someone dealing with fibro is already constantly dealing with symptoms of stress, and sometimes it’s not as easy to shrug your shoulders on move on (literally and figuratively). Its like Devil on my shoulder.

Some of the symptoms people report feeling from stress are low energy, headaches, upset stomach, aches, pains, stiff muscles, insomnia, shaky hands and feet. Anyone reading this who suffers from fibromyalgia knows that I just described a normal, routine day. When a fibro sufferer has added stress, the pain goes from a 5 to a 10 and the 4 hours of sleep goes down to 1 or 2. There are also emotional symptoms of stress. Some of these include Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control, difficulty relaxing, low self-esteem, depression, isolation.

There is also constant worrying, forgetfulness (aka the “fibro fog”), inability to focus, and being pessimistic. Now, for a “normal” person, these symptoms aren’t ideal, but can be manageable for a short period of time. However, for a fibro sufferer these again are everyday symptoms, and sadly, a way of life. Fibromyalgia sufferers are regularly feeling strains of stress, both physically and mentally. This is without added problems at work, school, family, relationships, money etc..

A lot of the stress is a vicious circle, the physical stress adds added psychological stress, and the psychological stress adds more physical stress and pain. 48% of people reported lying awake at night due to stress. Again, to a fibromyalgia patient, this is normal. Fibromyalgia causes constant fatigue, yet, due to the pain and anxiety, sleep is very rare for a fibro sufferer. When you add in the stress of a project at work, a strain on a relationship, money issues- this is adding to the already severe lack of sleep a fibro sufferer is already getting (or not getting).

There are many types of medication available to help with the emotional and physical pain of fibromyalgia, and various options to help with sleep, however, there is not a cure. Just as there is no cure in life for stress (if anyone out there knows of one, for fibro or stress, please share!).

Over the years I have tried countless options to try and alleviate and manage my stress. I tried working out, yoga, and even running (next time I’ll stick to horizontal running). Journaling, puzzles and therapy. While some of these options temporarily provide some relief, I have not found anything long lasting (again, if anyone has suggestions, please share).

Image result for horizontal running quote

A lot of fibromyalgia sufferers struggle when trying to explain to someone what “a day in the life” really feels like. How do you explain an invisible disease to someone? A good way is to ask them the last time they were really stressed. About work, school, finances. A fight with a family member, best friend or significant other. Ask them to recall the physical pains, lack of sleep, racing thoughts. All of that, day after day, is what it feels like to have fibromyalgia.  

Also Read:

How does fibromyalgia and PTSD connect??

Now that you understand what PTSD is and the symptoms that come with this, most people wonder how this is creating a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. The main theory is that when a person who has this level of stress in their systems from their PTSD that their serotonin levels in the brain drop. This leads to a substance P increase that is seen in fibromyalgia patients. Those with PTSD may also find that they start to show signs of fibromyalgia on top of the PTSD symptoms that they experience.

These symptoms are

  • >>Feeling achy and tired all the time
  • >>they often report feeling as though they are living their life in a fog.
  • >>Memory issues
  • >>Having issues with sleeping
  • >>Stomach issues that lead to even more discomfort

 

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