Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Relationship Issues Accompany Fibromyalgia, a Presumptive Condition for Gulf War veterans

Written by Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor, PsychCentral 
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Relationship Issues Accompany Fibromyalgia (PsychCentral.com) - Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by a chronic feeling of discomfort or pain in muscles throughout the body.

The syndrome affects 5.8 million Americans and does not have a known cause.

A new study investigates how the effects of the syndrome extend beyond physical maladies stressing emotions and relationships.

Researchers from the University of Missouri specifically examined how the diagnosis of fibromyalgia can affect marriages. Initial findings reveal that diagnosed spouses have considerably higher levels of depressive symptoms and pain and report more marital instability and anger than their spouses.

For both spouses, the symptoms can trigger increased emotional withdrawal and mental strain.

“Preliminary research suggests that fibromyalgia is very hard on both spouses because their lives are changed dramatically,” said Christine Proulx, assistant professor of human development and family studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.

“There appears to be a strong link between fibromyalgia and feelings of depression and fatigue, which can be debilitating for those diagnosed and their marriages. The mental strain felt by both spouses can negatively affect marital quality.”

Proulx found that individuals with fibromyalgia were almost three times more depressed than their spouses.

The diagnosed spouses reported higher levels of marital instability and more marital anger, indicating they were more likely to consider divorce than their spouses. The healthy spouses reported that it was difficult to watch their spouses experience pain.

“Both spouses are put in difficult positions when one partner is diagnosed with fibromyalgia,” Proulx said.

“Spouses must balance the presence of the disease, which can produce hostility or withdrawn behavior in the marriage, with the difficulty of being sick or being supportive to the spouse who is sick. These factors can create a cycle that can be very negative if it can’t be broken.”

In the study, Proulx is studying the interactions of married couples that include one spouse who has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic widespread pain.

The spouses record diary entries about their marital interactions and personal feelings. Proulx is examining the associations between marital quality, daily interactions, social support and the spouses’ personal wellbeing.

Fibromyalgia is controversial because there is no consensus on the cause of the chronic pain symptoms it causes, Proulx said.

It has no cure, so many of the couples who participated in the study reported that they were constantly trying different treatments to manage the symptoms.

Source: University of Missouri


Anonymous said...

My husband was in the Gulf War. He was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia but the VA has never done anything to treat it or given us an option. We are currently separted and anger on both parts is a reason. The stress of family life, finances and pain is a valid part of our problems. This piece helped me to see we are not alone. It is hard to see him in pain and yet I resent when he is unable to work and support our family. Thank you for posting this article.

Unknown said...

Your husband needs to get his doctor to give him something. He will need to see an arthritis doctor for it.

The National Gulf War Resource Centers' self-help guide can help him. Look at chapter two.