Fibromyalgia affects mental health of those diagnosed and their spouses, study finds

April 28, 2010
This graphic displays the various symptoms related to fibromyalgia. Credit: fibromyalgia-symptoms.org

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes chronic, widespread pain throughout the body. In a new study, University of Missouri researchers are examining how the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia can affect marriages. Initial findings reveal that diagnosed spouses have considerably higher levels of depressive symptoms and pain and report more marital instability and anger than their spouses. For both spouses, the symptoms can trigger increased emotional withdrawal and mental strain.

"Preliminary research suggests that is very hard on both spouses because their lives are changed dramatically," said Christine Proulx, assistant professor of human development and family studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. "There appears to be a strong link between fibromyalgia and feelings of depression and , which can be debilitating for those diagnosed and their marriages. The mental strain felt by both spouses can negatively affect marital quality."

Proulx found that individuals with fibromyalgia were almost three-times more depressed than their spouses. The diagnosed spouses reported higher levels of marital instability and more marital anger, indicating they were more likely to consider divorce than their spouses. The healthy spouses reported that it was difficult to watch their spouses experience pain.

"Both spouses are put in difficult positions when one partner is diagnosed with fibromyalgia," Proulx said. "Spouses must balance the presence of the disease, which can produce hostility or withdrawn behavior in the marriage, with the difficulty of being sick or being supportive to the spouse who is sick. These factors can create a cycle that can be very negative if it can't be broken."

In the study, Proulx is studying the interactions of that include one spouse who has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic widespread pain. The spouses record diary entries about their marital interactions and personal feelings. Proulx is examining the associations between marital quality, daily interactions, social support and the spouses' personal well-being.

Fibromyalgia is controversial because there is no consensus on the cause of the chronic pain symptoms it causes, Proulx said. It has no cure, so many of the couples who participated in the study reported that they were constantly trying different treatments to manage the symptoms.

Findings from the pilot study, "Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, and Marriage: A Daily Diary Pilot Study," were presented last November at the National Council of Family Relations Conference.

Explore further: Gabapentin may treat fibromyalgia pain

Related Stories

Gabapentin may treat fibromyalgia pain

June 11, 2007

U.S. scientists say the anticonvulsant medication gabapentin might be effective in treating pain and other symptoms arising from fibromyalgia.

Why don't painkillers work for people with fibromyalgia?

September 27, 2007

People who have the common chronic pain condition fibromyalgia often report that they don’t respond to the types of medication that relieve other people’s pain. New research from the University of Michigan Health System ...

Spouses often mirror each other's health habits

October 3, 2007

If one spouse exercises, quits smoking, stops drinking alcohol, receives a flu shot, or undergoes a cholesterol screening, the other spouse is more likely to do the same, according to a new study in Health Services Research.

Fibromyalgia drug sparks debate

January 14, 2008

Pfizer heralded the effectiveness of its newly approved fibromyalgia treatment, Lyrica, as some U.S. doctors question the very existence of the condition.

Fibromyalgia can no longer be called the 'invisible' syndrome

November 3, 2008

Using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), researchers in France were able to detect functional abnormalities in certain regions in the brains of patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia, reinforcing the idea that ...

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.