Friday, October 23, 2015

Linking Fibromyalgia With Bipolar Disorder/Depression

Fibromyalgia is a condition which causes painful muscle, joint and body aches. More common in women, it can also cause fatigue, loss of sleep and decreased productivity. Many fibromyalgia patients may also suffer from bipolar disorder as well as depression.  New research suggests just over 25% of patients with fibromyalgia also have symptoms of bipolar.  Some evidence shows that emotional distress can take such a toll on patients that they begin to experience physical pain as well.  Having a depressive disorder also increases the risk of developing chronic pain.  For example, depressed patients described greater pain and display more pain behaviors than pain patients who are not depressed.  Also, the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder can magnify pain, making it more difficult for patients to carry on with normal daily activities and work.  Biologically, there is some overlap in the way emotional and physical pain is registered in the brain. Physical pain and emotional pain processing share many of the same neurological pathways, making it very common for patients to experience both kinds of pain at once due to an imbalance of chemicals in important processing of the brain.  All of these conditions can cause a patient's bipolar to heighten, causing an unhealthy cycle between the two conditions, with each continuously making the other worse.  This could make an individual more sensitive to pain and occur in other parts of the body that was not present before.  Lower serotonin levels (helps create feelings of well-being, adjust pain levels and promotes deep sleep) have been found in patients with fibromyalgia.  Also, lower levels of the stress hormones and cortisol which lead to impaired responses to psychological or physical stresses.  The best treatment approach will focus on all areas that are affected. Seeing a pain specialist, as well as, a psychiatrist will be helpful  for patients to treat multiple conditions.  People with fibromyalgia have decreased activity in opioid  receptors in parts of the brain that affect mood and the emotional aspect of the pain.  This might explain why patients are likely to have depression and less responsive to opioid pain killers.  Many experts believe that fibromyalgia is not a disease, but a chronic pain condition.  They believe this because areas in the brain that are responsible for the sensation of pain react differently in fibromyalgia patients.  What isn't clear is whether a stressful life brings about the fibromyalgia or if having fibromyalgia leads to stress.

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