Fibromyalgia or Depression?

There are many people, especially doctors, who claim that fibromyalgia is just a symptom of depression. I’ve had both, and I know the difference quite well. They are very, very different.

Being in pain all the time can certainly lead to depression. That’s just logical. There are, however, people who have fibromyalgia who are not clinically depressed. Depression can also manifest as physical pain, but it does not meet the criteria for fibromyalgia.

I was treated for depression for many years before I developed FMS, though, and I truly believe that if I’d gotten proper treatment for mental health issues in my childhood (post-traumatic stress disorder and all the complications it brought, including major depressive disorder) I probably wouldn’t have developed FMS.

I never have trouble distinguishing between the two, or between either of them and CFS/ME, which I also have. They’re all quite different.

With FMS, the pain causes fatigue, and together they can (but don’t always) have an effect on your emotions. You may feel like doing something, but your body absolutely will not cooperate. There have been times when I’ve been feeling great, gone out to do something I was SO looking forward to—and nearly collapsed in the middle of everything when my body said, “All right, that’s it, no more. Done. Where’s the bed?” (We’ve joked that if I ever manage to get a scooter or electric wheelchair, it will have to have a remote control feature so that Sam can steer me on home when I’ve passed out.)

But serious clinical depression…it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got the physical energy or not. Logic doesn’t matter. Knowing that you’d feel better for having a nice, hot shower is utterly irrelevant. The fact that the telephone ringing is contributing to your headache, and you could make it stop by merely lifting up your arm up pushing a button, is irrelevant because lifting your arm would take too much damned effort. Yes, somewhere, on some level, you may know that you’ll lose yet more function for not getting up and doing your exercises, but it’s less important than staring at the ceiling, or the pillow, or whatever is in front of your face right now. Not that you really make any kind of conscious value judgment or anything, but the staring has inertia going for it. Even if nothing IS hurting, even if you have all the energy in the world and you could do anything you just don’t care.

Remember that, the next time you hear someone claiming that FMS and depression are the same.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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4 thoughts on “Fibromyalgia or Depression?

  1. I just wanted to say that I couldn’t agree more. I have both depression and CFS and they are totally different. I can tell which is which and generally the depression is controlled by medication but the CFS is unaffected by it, showing that with the depression removed I am still ill.

  2. I too think that my earlier depression, along with the physical trauma of a fall, led to my FMS. I never knew I’d live with the consequences forever.

    I think you’ve said more eloquently what I was trying to say. I’ll be adding you to my regular reads. Thanks.

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