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Fibromyalgia, Obesity, and Depression Linked


Researchers have long well known that obese people often experience a high rate of pain problems. Recently, researchers from the American Pain Society published a study in their Journal of Pain in July that showed obesity and pain are also linked with family history and mood disorders, such as chronic depression.

Researchers studied 3, 471 individual twins from the University of Washington Twin Registry to see how obesity and chronic pain interacted with family history and psychological factors. They did find a relationship between specific pain diagnoses and symptoms, obesity, depression, and familial factors. It was found that low back pain, tension or migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, abdominal and widespread pain were more likely to be reported by those twins who were overweight or obese.

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The problem can come from three starting points. Firstly, if a person suffers from depression, they often withdraw from physical activities as depression is de-motivating. This leads to persons gaining weight over time, putting an increase pressure on lower backs and development of osteoarthritis or other pain disorders. Alternatively, those with chronic pain, such as those with fibromyalgia, will become limited in mobility and stop exercise. The loss of sleep also de-motivates. This can lead to depression and that can lead to obesity. Thirdly, a person who grows up eating an unhealthy diet and with a lack of physical exercise will become obese (especially if family members are also obese) and develop a sedentary lifestyle, resulting in pain disorders and depression.

The lesson? Physicians need to treat all aspects of a patient’s well-being, physically, mentally and emotionally. Patients can help themselves by speaking up, getting up, and keep moving when able. Patients should let their physicians know when their pain has increased or medication is no longer effective. On days when pain is manageable, patients should exercise in some way, for some amount of time. The more a patient exercises, the more a patient can exercise. Exercise and eating right has been shown an effective pain management regimen for those with chronic pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia. The trick is to find the balance between not too much and not too little. Speaking with your physician should help you find that balance.

Further, patients with chronic pain syndromes may find it beneficial to take a physical therapy treatment course for six weeks, one time a week. The physical therapist can work with the patient to strengthen core muscle groups that hold the body upright and takes the brunt of the pressure from standing and walking. Once a patient learns the exercise, he or she can continue to do them as a daily minimum to maintain mobility and stability.



There are obese and/or depressed people in all walks of life. Most of them never get fibromyalgia. I'm sure they have aches and pains but that alone isn't fibro. Too many people are being diagnosed lately who really don't have it. Researchers seem to be grasping at straws lately.