Fibromyalgia and Trauma

Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. You can find  Fibromyalgia Awareness Day Local Events near you. The National Fibromyalgia Association provides a wealth of information and resources.

For those who are newer readers, I want to share my thoughts on the link between Fibromyalgia and trauma from last year:

Are you familiar with Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is a common and complex chronic pain disorder that affects people physically, mentally and socially. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome rather than a disease. Unlike a disease, which is a medical condition with a specific cause or causes and recognizable signs and symptoms, a syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms, and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause. –the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA)

Although the cause is unknown, possible triggers may include severe physical or emotional trauma. It has certainly been my anecdotal experience that childhood trauma is often a precursor for the development of fibromyalgia (as well as many other physical problems). As I have written about previously, migraines, chronic pain, arthritis, chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome are also prevalent among those who have experienced childhood abuse. Another possible trigger is not getting enough sleep. This is certainly a common issue for those who were abused as children! Sleep disruption is one of the issues clients present with most consistently at the beginning of treatment.

I am in no way the same as saying that fibromyalgia does not exist in its own right or is “all in your head”. Too many women have had their physical complaints minimized when seeking treatment. That is why raising awareness is so important.

Do you suffer with fibromyalgia? What was your experience like getting diagnosed and treated for it? Do others understand it?

Do you see it linked to prior trauma?

Do you have any other chronic medical conditions or symptoms that you see as connected to childhood trauma? Have you addressed these? What has helped? What has not?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and input!

More information on Coping with Fibromyalgia

Kathleen Young, Psy.D.

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This entry was posted in Chronic Illness, Emotional Abuse, Health, Invisible Illness, Mental Health, Psychologist, Trauma and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Fibromyalgia and Trauma

  1. timethief says:

    Hello there,
    I want to thank you for linking to my post on coping with fibromyalgia. I have been doing so for over 20 years now and this winter was among the worst I have ever experienced. As the depression is still lingering, the fibro is flaring and chronic fatigue is a reality I simply lacked the energy to publish and up beat post this year on Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. Hopefully, at this time next year I will be feeling better than I do now.

    Thank again,

  2. Gilbert Satchell says:

    This is so spot-on! I think something that is over looked that along with the IBS is the development of hemorrhoids. I’ve had it all and some of my friends with PTSD suffer the same physical conditions. Any thoughts?

  3. Michele says:

    Interestingly, I work in the mental health field and have done so for 15 years. I have suffered with many medical problems and pain since an adolescent and struggled with the notion of fibromyalgia when my clients when come to me diagnosed with it. At first I thought it was lazy physicians or my clients we exaggerating. Often I would encourage my clients to seek another physician that would look more deeply at their presenting concerns. I feared they were being over looked due to Medicare & Medicaid insurance. But as my pain progressed that I hid from my own physician I began to do research. I felt ashame to tell my doctor that I felt so horrible for a plethora of reasons. One I already had seven specialists. Two I was already one way to many medications for a 35 year old woman. Three I had this nagging feeling in my stomach of shame. I am self aware, I knew where this came from, my family. No matter what degree I obtained, what career advancement, or what personal or professional accolade or goal I achieved my past abuse was still with me. I am glad to see this article as I feel people need to understand how stress affects their bodies. I had spent years helping others letting myself fall apart because I never went back and truly dealt with my abuse. Physician heal the self! I had thought I was strong because I had walked away from that life and built something better, all the while is was making me physically I’ll. Now I look at my health holistically. Funny, I did this with clients for years I have no idea why I skipped myself.

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