all Chronic Fatigue/M.E. Fibromyalgia Mental Health

Anxiety Disorder Caused By Chronic Illness? 3 Helpful Steps To Managing Your Anxiety ~ Exploring Anxiety Part 3 of 3

January 20

Which came first: your anxiety disorder, or your chronic illness?

For many, anxiety disorder caused by chronic illness was a unwelcome revelation. A heightened sense of fear and worry developed right alongside their other chronic symptoms, and voila! Without even trying, a full-blown anxiety disorder emerged. However, for others, it seemed as if diseases such as FMS and other chronic pain conditions developed as a result of dealing with the ravages that years of mental stress can bring.

So, it really is a ‘chicken or egg first’ kind of thing. And, it can be both. I believe my own Fibromyalgia and CFS/ME is a result of several factors:

  • Genetic pre-disposition ~ my personality is hard-wired to be emotional, empathetic, sensitive ect., which was negatively impacted by:

  • Childhood abuse, which helped to set up:

  • Emotional coping difficulties from childhood into adulthood ~ depression at an early age, eating disorder, stress related physical issues ect., which lead to:

  • An over-taxed central nervous system ~ fight/flight takes a toll on the CNS which can result in Fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain conditions

  • Coupled with a bout of Epstein Barr Virus in my early teens that re-activates from time to time (hence the CFS/ME).

A heightened sense of fear and worry often develops alongside chronic illness. Click To Tweet

Anxiety Disorder Caused By Chronic Illness? ~ Exploring Anxiety Part 3 of 3

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Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are highly complex conditions. So much so, that even after all this time, we are still unclear on what exactly it is. We know it is a multi-sypmtomatic disease brought about by a variety of causes.

There are however, certain commonalities that occur in FMS patients. This can certainly be seen in the chronic pain/anxiety sphere. The ‘Anxiety And Depression Association Of America’ lists several chronic conditions that often accompany GAD (generalized anxiety disorder):

  • Arthritis

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Migraines

  • Chronic Back Pain

There is also a potential chemical factor that may be involved as well. ‘Serotonin’ which affects; mood, social behavior, sleep, digestive issues, ect. has been found to be low in a majority of FMS patients. Guess what? Serotonin imbalance has also been found in those struggling with anxiety disorders.

I have always had high levels of anxiety. As chronic pain began to set in, and what I now know is FMS, it feels as though my struggles with GAD increased. Since the medical community is still trying to figure it all out, all we really can know for sure is what we experience within ourselves. And our own personal experiences are as varied and individualistic as we are.

Certain commonalities occur in Fibromyalgia patients, like Generalized Anxiety Disorder Click To Tweet

 

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Anxiety Disorder Caused By Chronic Illness? 3 Helpful Steps To Managing Your Anxiety

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy ~ basically, learning how to re-train your thinking. You can see a professional for this, or even research it, and do the work yourself. Up to the individual.

Manage Your Chronic Condition ~ doing all we know to do to stay on top of our healthcare. Practicing good self-care by doing all we know to do; faithful taking meds, good nutrition, seeking help when needed, ect.

Education ~ research, research, then research some more. Be pro-active in your healthcare by arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible, then seek out the appropriate professional care.

 

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'Self-Care' Sunday ~ 1/22/2017
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10 Comments

  • Reply Dianna January 20 at 6:04 am

    Thank you, Kristine, for this last part of this series. ” Emotional coping difficulties from childhood into adulthood” describes me well. My poor elementary school teachers probably dreaded ever having a party of any kind because my “nervous stomach” always brought about, well, you know…a case of upchucking. I was labeled “sensitive”, a late bloomer, etc. This article helped me put everything in perspective and understand myself better.

    Research, research, research and research some more…yep, that is the way to be. When I was first diagnosed with FMS I read continually to find things that I could do to help myself. My husband works in research and he was doing a lot of reading on FMS as well. It was (and continues to be) a blessing to read something and realize, “Hey, that’s me…and I’m not the only one like this”.

    Thanks again, my friend, for this website. You have no idea (or maybe you do) just how much of a blessing it is to me and to others.
    Dianna recently posted…Extending GraceMy Profile

    • Reply kristine January 20 at 11:07 am

      Thank you so very much Dianna, so sweet!♥
      So many ‘sensitive’ kids can get pushed to the side because they’re not as ‘easy’ to deal with as the others are. I see it all the time when I take B & Z to school on the mornings I have them. ‘Z’ is one of the sensitive ones, and I watch those ‘adult’ teachers like a hawk…making sure my baby girl gets the encouragement/acknoledgement she needs while helping her to not be ruled by her emotions. One of the greatest gifts we’ve been given from having had the traumatic childhoods we did, is the ability to ‘see’ & help others who are now going through it themselves…especially the precious children.
      Thank you again for such a warm & blessing filled comment ♥♥♥

  • Reply Donna Haring January 20 at 1:48 pm

    Hi, Kristine!

    I’m fairly new to following your blog. A week or two actually and it is one of the more inspiring, educational, uplifting, and well written that I have seen. It is all inclusive, speaks softly to numerous audiences, and most importantly, makes taking “medicine” easy to swallow aka advice of self-care that I know is good for me and I reluctantly do such as stop, pace myself, take my naps (I have Narcolepsy as well as Fibromyalgia), sit down to eat versus eating standing up at the kitchen sink, you get the idea.

    I am driven, can be “overly” empathetic, “exceedingly” passionate and cause much of my own anxiety besides that of childhood PTSD. Chronic illness has made me anxious if I can meet the demands of my previous life where I was a personal trainer. I have had to scale way back and am having quite a difficult time accepting myself as I am today and embracing with gratitude my current abilities which I do truly feel blessed, and at the same time not comparing myself to the quasi-triathlete I was a few years ago.

    Also anxious about getting through social events without anyone noticing how exhausted I am, how I have been rubbing the same trigger point for the last hour, how I am grimacing in pain between smiles and jovial laughter. Working on knowing all the above ways to manage anxiety and to appreciate the interconnections of life and learn one new thing a day and share it with someone else. You do just that. Thank you!

    • Reply kristine January 20 at 6:57 pm

      Wow! THank you SO much Donna! What a wonderful comment, so encouraging! Sounds like your doing a great job with a crappy ‘lot of cards’ you weren’t asked to be dealt!
      Know exactly what you mean about hoping others won’t notice the pain you are in. We become ‘masters of disguise’! LOL!
      Keep up the good work, and thank you once again 🙂 ♥

  • Reply Lee Good January 20 at 7:43 pm

    This is a great series on anxiety which often seems to go hand in hand with chronic illness and put you at a greater risk of developing depression and anxiety. Knowledge is power so understanding more about anxiety is helpful for most sufferers. Thanks Kristine for linking up this 3 part series at Fibro Friday.

    • Reply kristine January 21 at 1:01 pm

      YES! Knowledge can be VERY powerful! Thanks Lee! Have a great week!

  • Reply Chronic Mom January 23 at 11:17 am

    This is a really interesting concept for me, just because my experience seems to be different than many others. I’ve always been a worrier, but never experienced anxiety until I got sick. I’ve often wondered if I would have been fine if I had stayed healthy, or if I would have gone on to develop anxiety anyway. But, I’ve never been an emotional or sensitive person so I just don’t follow the pattern seen in others. I love this series since it’s looked into these concepts that I’ve thought about before, but never really researched.
    Chronic Mom recently posted…10 kitchen tools for the chronically illMy Profile

    • Reply kristine January 23 at 11:29 am

      That is interesting SHelley. I think many people do develop anxiety along with their chronic condition who may never have had issues with anxiety if it were not for the chronic illness. With all the chemical changes/hormones ect. it can mess with your thinking and reactions. Thank you for the comment! 😉 Have a wonderful week ♥ 🙂

  • Reply Nikki January 26 at 6:11 pm

    This article really intrigues me. I have always had anxiety and my poor children have it too. Both of them have the accompanying back pain and I would hate for them to progress to some of the other conditions. Great tips here on helping us to manage it better. thanks for all the research. We got my daughter a Himalayan rock salt lamp for Christmas, she keeps it on when she is in her room. She is sleeping better and has not had an anxiety attack since. I think we all need one!
    Nikki recently posted…#WAYWOW 83 – It’s a Heatwave!My Profile

    • Reply kristine January 26 at 7:20 pm

      I’ve heard of that! Thanks for sharing with me, since I don’t usually try something like that unless I know from someone personally that they work. Hmmmm…I do have a Bday coming up….LOL! 🙂

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