Mood disorders and chronic pain are related on multiple levels. The genes that regulate the synthesis of serotonin transporter, opioid receptors, and inflammatory mediators seem to be compromised in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) as well as in patients with chronic pain.
Other similar factors may predispose individuals to chronic pain and depression.
For example, major stressful events may be related MDD and chronic painful conditions, such as fibromyalgia.
Patients who suffer from Fibromyalgia often suffer from mental distress such as anxiety and depression, resulting in a low health-related quality of life in this patient group.
The mechanisms underlying this association are not clear, but a disturbance in the way the central nervous system processes pain has been suggested; especially the neurotransmitters serotonin and noradrenaline have been implied to be involved in mental symptoms and the underlying pathophysiology of chronic pain in both the brain and the spinal cord Neither MDD nor Fibromyalgia conditions are homogenous entities.
In either scenario, we’re dealing with umbrella diagnoses that subsume a number of biologically diverse conditions.
Ample evidence suggests that the presence of MDD or another mood disorder tends to augment the experience of pain in patients with Fibromyalgia.
The mechanisms of these diseases overlap significantly. The circuitry in the brain involved with regulation of mood and stress response overlaps with the pain matrix—areas involved with processing pain.
The areas involved in both pathological states include the amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, anterior cingulate, prefrontal cortical areas, and insular cortex.
Concurrently, It is observed that there are changes in endocrine and hypothalamic-pituitaryadrenal function in patients with Fibromyalgia and mood disorders.
Both conditions are also associated with alteration of neuroimmune function and elevated inflammatory response as well as autonomic dysregulation along with increased sympathetic tone.
All of these underlying neurobiological similarities probably produce similar clinical manifestations.
Fibromyalgia patients, much like those with depression, may have cognitive impairment, sleep disturbances, diminished ability to enjoy life, difficulty with concentration, and fatigue.
Whereas, an interesting similarity between fibromyalgia and mood disorder has to do with kindling phenomenon, which proposes that in Fibromyalgia patients with mood disorders, frequent mood episodes increase the likelihood of symptom recurrence.
This shows a greater morbidity and symptom severity associated with future recurrences.
The duration of pain seems to augment the underlying pathology and increase the patient’s experience of pain and suffering.
More so, some similar mechanisms may also be involved at the synaptic level.
Excessive glutaminergic transmission is found in both MDD and fibromyalgia, showing an impairment in the collaboration between nerve cells and glial cells, including astroglia, microglia, and oligodendroglia.
This profound disturbance in synaptic signaling can be consolidated by increases in neurotrophic factors in chronic pain conditions.
Thus nerve fibers “learn” pain. So indeed, there are synaptic, cellular, and even subcellular changes that would suggest that there is some similarity between fibromyalgia or neuropathic pain and MDD.
How to Regulate Fibromyalgia and Mood Disorder
Interestingly, the critical brain area called Hippocampus is responsible for the regulation of stress response as well as emotional modulation and cognitive processes, such as declarative memory.
The negative effect of the hippocampal dysfunction is intriguing because it could be associated with neuroendocrine, autonomic, and eventual neuroimmune alterations.
With the disturbance in hippocampal function, one may also appreciate telltale cognitive signs.
Fibromyalgia and mood disorder patients often have problems remembering names, expressing themselves accurately, and recalling where they put things.
Research as shown that, it is not always easy to translate advancements in neurobiological understanding of MDD and chronic pain disorders into clinical practice, but there are some important lessons.
Given that these conditions may have a shared underpinning, it would behoove us to evaluate patients with MDD comprehensively to determine whether some of their symptoms may also be caused by chronic pain. In addition, it may be helpful to ask more pointed questions about pain.
Lately, studies revealed that some patients with mood disorders, especially those who have not responded well to treatment, actually had a chronic pain condition which is Fibromyalgia.
Patients with fibromyalgia are likely to have a comorbid mood disorder, which suggests that these patients would benefit from an evaluation focusing on mood disorders. I
n addition, these conditions share pathophysiological mechanisms that tend to influence a patient’s risk for metabolic diseases, especially type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. So the patient’s general medical status is an important consideration.
Home Remedies For Fibromyalgia and Mood Disorder
Diet plays an important role in managing your mood. As your blood sugar level affects your mood, it is important to try to keep this on an even keel by watching your diet.
Eating refined sugar and caffeine may elevate your mood temporarily, but will cause a big drop in your blood sugar level and mood soon after.
Similarly, though alcohol may make you feel better shortterm, it acts as a depressant in the long run, and may result in further mood problems.
There is also a correlation between mood and magnesium, as well as magnesium and fatigue and muscle cramps.
Therefore, ensuring you are including enough magnesium in your diet, or taking a magnesium supplement may be worthwhile. Managing stress is also important.
We all face a certain amount of stress in our lives, but some people are able to cope with it more effectively than others.
Finding your own effective stress managing techniques, such as exercise or talking therapies, may have a positive influence over your mood.
Herbal Remedies For Fibromyalgia and Mood Disorder
Herbal remedies are often most effective when taken alongside home remedies, as this helps to influence your body naturally.
Hypericum, also known as St. John’s Wort, is one of the most widely used and researched herbs for low mood and mood swings.
It is thought to work by influencing the neurotransmitters in the brain. If you are already taking prescription medicines from your doctor, it is worth discussing with your doctor or pharmacist if it is advisable to take St. John’s Wort as it may influence the way they work.
Absolutely. Mood disorders are always triggered by internal chemical imbalances and/or illnesses. That’s why it’s important to have patience with people who have mood swings and encourage them to seek help.