Fibromyalgia: does mindfulness help with depressive symptoms?

Fibromyalgia does mindfulness help with depressive symptoms.png

Listen to this abstract: “Depressive symptoms complicate pain management for people with FM, with adverse consequences such as a greater need for pain medications and limited pain coping strategies. Determining risks and protective factors associated with depressive symptoms in persons with FM could inform the development and implementation of mental health interventions.” Study

That is from a study in the Journal of Mental Health done by researchers at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and their associates at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. From personal experience I know depression severely complicates chronic pain management and fibromyalgia. What they were looking into for this study is meditation. Something that was recommended for me at the pain clinic and I found very beneficial.

The study, called Mindfulness as a protective factor against depressive symptoms in people with fibromyalgia, involved 117 participants. They looked at factors involving the relationships of pain intensity, perceived stress, activity interference, pain catastrophizing and mindfulness with depression symptoms.

They found:

Mindfulness has a negative direct association with depressive symptoms and a negative indirect association with depressive symptoms through perceived stress, activity interference and pain catastrophizing. Perceived stress, activity interference and pain catastrophizing had direct associations with depressive symptoms. Finally, perceived stress, activity interference and pain catastrophizing had indirect associations with depressive symptoms through pain intensity. Study

So for depressive symptoms of Fibromyalgia mindfulness can play a role in coping.

However, pain intensity was not helped by mindfulness in this study. In that:

Mindfulness was not related to pain intensity in this study. Pain intensity, however, negatively impacted perceived stress, activity interference and catastrophizing.

Pain intensity also was not directly related to depressive symptoms; rather, it appeared to affect depression through its impact on stress, activity interference and catastrophizing. Fibromyalgia News Today

This isn’t surprising. I have come across research in the past that said mindfulness helped with pain unpleasantness but not pain intensity in fibromyalgia. However, when we look at chronic pain, in general, it can help with pain intensity. In my experience, which would be with chronic pain overall (chronic migraines, FM, EDS) it helped with my perception of pain and with depression. It helped how I Reacted to the pain, but not the pain in of itself. Quite frankly that is beneficial since if I cannot reduce the pain, I want to reduce the suffering from the pain, as in how I react to the pain and the emotional response to pain.

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