Emotional Health and Fibromyalgia

Does stress make fibromyalgia symptoms worse?

A Answers (6)

  • Emotional stress can worsen fibromyalgia symptoms. People with fibromyalgia often say that their pain and other symptoms flare up or feel worse when they're having a stressful day or coping with emotionally upsetting circumstances. Finding a way to manage your stress level, such as practicing meditation or yoga, can help you control fibromyalgia symptoms.
  • ACeleste Cooper, Rheumatology, answered

    Stress makes just about anything worse. You only have to ask the heart surgeon, Dr. Oz about how stress affects the body as a whole. However, it is doubly important to reduce stress if you have fibromyalgia, because we have an upset in the release of cortisol, the stress hormone.

    Because cortisol is already altered in FM, stressful emotional, mental, spiritual, or even physical events put us at higher risk for an upset in cellular metabolism putting micro-healing in jeopardy.

    We know that the FM brain is hyper-sensitized. We also know that what we think affects the way our brain processes information.  There are many good techniques that teach you how to calm your mind, and therefore lower blood pressure, heart rate, and the release of cortisol.  

    Mindfulness, creative visualization, guided meditation, biofeedback, Qi Gong, Yoga, and T’ai Chi (discussed in length in Chapter 5 of our book “The Power of Mind, Body, and Spirit”) are all good ways of learning how to turn down the volume on your stress meter. Identify known stressors and try to particularly avoid them when you are having a flare in symptoms. Chapter 6 "Dealing with Circuit Overload" gives tips and tools for dealing with brain fog, time management and crisis management, other factors that affect the way we manage stress factor.


    All blogs, posts and answers are based on the work in Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by Celeste Cooper, RN, and Jeff Miller, PhD. 2010, Vermont: Healing Arts press and are not meant to replace medical advice.


  • AJennifer Caudle, DO, Family Medicine, answered
    Does stress make fibromyalgia symptoms worse?

    Fibromyalgia has many triggers that are different for each patient, but stress is one that affects many people. Watch family medicine physician Jennifer Caudle, DO, explain how stress can impact your condition and why stress management is important.

  • ANatalie E. Azar, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    Does stress make fibromyalgia symptoms worse?

    Stress is known to make fibromyalgia symptoms worse; it can exacerbate or trigger a flare-up in fibromyalgia, as well as other connective tissue diseases. Watch rheumatologist Natalie Azar, MD, explain the impact stress can have on fibromyalgia.

  • ADede Bonner, Health Education, answered

    No one knows the exact correlation yet and fibromyalgia is still viewed by many as a “mysterious” disease, but some experts suggest that chronic stress may aggravate the body’s immune system and somehow be related to chronic pain.

    For some people with fibromyalgia, stress levels are further heightened because they get so little support or sympathy about their pain from the other people in their lives. This pain-stress cycle then becomes a vicious circle.
  • It can for some. There are numerous triggers or causes that can worsen a patient’s fibromyalgia, and stress or anxiety can certainly cause symptoms to worsen. Controlling stress and anxiety with treatment through a multidisciplinary team can help fibromyalgia symptoms.

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How can I manage my stress with fibromyalgia?