Mood swings are the oscillation between periods of feelings of well-being and depression. Generally, fluctuating hormones are responsible for these emotional whirlwinds. However, with fibromyalgia, mood swings can be prolific and can get worse over time if left unaddressed. The degree of pain and exhaustion plays a strong role in the severity of the mood disorder. Intense feelings of anger, frustration, fear, depression and self-pity can come and go in a matter of minutes. Just as the body "flares", so does the temper of FMS patients. Left unexpressed or overindulging in feelings, can cause one feeling to roll into another forming a downward spiral of emotions that explode. Most suffers are cognizant of their overreaction, but feel they can't stop the outpouring of negative feelings. These mood swings are frustrating for both the fibromyalgia patient as well as their families. The good news is that with medication, a fresh perspective and utilizing therapeutic tools such as meditation, yoga, bibliotherapy etc...mood swings can be brought under control. This does not mean that a FMS patient will never have mood swings again, but it does mean that they will be limited in frequency and severity, making life better for all involved.
A Scientific Look at FMS and Mood Disorders:
In a study funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and led by Lesley M. Arnold, MD, investigators looked to compare the prevalence of fibromyalgia and mood disorders among family members of people with fibromyalgia with the prevalence of those disorders among family members of people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Recent studies suggest that fibromyalgia runs in families. Previous studies also suggest that people with fibromyalgia are more likely to have relatives with major mood disorders, such as clinical depression or bipolar disorder, than other people with chronic pain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
To explore and further test those results with a large group of participants, Dr. Arnold and her colleagues interviewed 78 people with fibromyalgia and collected information about more than 500 of their relatives to determine the prevalence of fibromyalgia and mood disorders in the family members. For comparison, her team also intervewed 40 people with rheumatoid arthritis and collected information about 272 of their relatives.
Those with rheumatoid arthritis acted as the control group to eliminate any bias in their study. Collecting the same information from the RA group that they took from the FMS group allowed the researchers to compare the fibromyalgia data with that of people who do not have fibromyalgia but are similar to them in terms of background characteristics and treatment-seeking behaviour.
The researchers discovered that fibromyalgia aggregates in families, which means that the family members of those with FMS were much more likely to have fibromyalgia than family members of people with rheumatoid arthritis.
The team also found that fibromyalgia co-aggregates with major mood disorders in families, which means that the family members of those with fibromyalgia were much more likely to have a major mood disorder than the family members of those who have RA.
The researchers say one implication of these findings is that genetic factors may play a role in fibromyalgia. In addition, they speculate that mood disorders and fibromyalgia may share some inherited factors. What does this mean? First of all, while the idea that fibromyalgia is a genetic predisposition, it has not been proven. Many people with FMS are the first member of their family to be affected by the syndrome which raises doubt about genetic factors. Simply put, there is no definitive proof or specific gene that marks fibromylgia. However, it's close connection to mood disorders means that scientists are closer to connecting FMS and a genetic predisposition. It may be a long time before we have definitive answers as to the root cause of FMS. We already know it is in the brain, that it affects the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems and more, but we require deeper knowledge and understanding of this enigmatic syndrome. Insight into mood disorders and FMS helps us to form a therapeutic program that works for both the individual fibromyalgia patient and for group therapy.