It’s tough to deal with the symptoms of fibromyalgia – and now new research shows that women with fibromyalgia may be at risk for other medical problems such as liver disease and heart problems. Even more concerning – fibromyalgia sufferers are at higher risk for suicide.
Fibromyalgia and Risk for Suicide
Recently a prospective study published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism looked at mortality rates among people with fibromyalgia. One of the most disturbing findings was that women with fibromyalgia have a ten times greater risk for suicide than the general population. Overall, the suicide rate was greater at the time of diagnosis and was still high five years out.
This wasn’t the only problem researchers found among fibromyalgia sufferers. They also have a six times greater risk of liver disease and a three times higher risk of stroke and cerebrovascular disease.
Why Do Fibromyalgia Sufferers Have a Higher Risk of Suicide and Other Medical Problems?
No one knows for sure why people with fibromyalgia are more prone to suicide, but it may be partially explained by the chronic pain, depression, and fatigue many women with fibromyalgia deal with each day. Fibromyalgia sufferers also have brain changes and alterations in neurotransmitter levels that may account for their depression and higher risk of suicide.
What are the other symptoms of this poorly understood illness? Some of the most troublesome are morning stiffness, pain, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, memory difficulties, anxiety, panic, and depression – but fibromyalgia can affect almost every organ in the body.
Some fibromyalgia sufferers have symptoms so severe that they’re unable to hold down a regular job. Combine this with the fact that fibromyalgia has no cure, and you can see why people with this condition might feel hopeless or even suicidal.
Fibromyalgia Symptoms and the Risk of Other Medical Problems
What’s more difficult to explain is why men and women with fibromyalgia have a higher risk for liver disease and stroke. The fact that no one really knows what causes fibromyalgia makes it harder to understand why these conditions are related. What is known is that fibromyalgia sufferers process sensory symptoms differently, and that there’s a genetic component to the disease – making it more common in certain families. Hopefully, further research will shed light on why stroke and liver disease are more common in people with this disorder.
Fibromyalgia Symptoms and the Risk of Suicide: The Bottom Line?
Fibromyalgia causes its sufferers a significant amount of pain and distress, so it’s important that people with this condition look for ways to relieve their stress levels – including counseling. Studies show that exercise is therapeutic for people with fibromyalgia symptoms – once they get started. People with fibromyalgia may also benefit from yoga and meditation.
Because of the higher risk for liver disease and stroke, men and women with fibromyalgia should have their liver enzymes checked every six months and monitor their blood pressure and lipid levels regularly.
Medscape.com. “Suicide Risk 10-Fold Higher in Women With Fibromyalgia”