How can cognitive behavioral therapy help in the treatment of fibromyalgia?

Dawn Marcus
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps in the treatment of fibromyalgia by changing how you think about your pain.

CBT helps you change your thoughts from negative to positive. Negative thoughts about fibromyalgia include catastrophic thinking that the pain will never improve, that nothing you can do will help, and that achieving pain relief is hopeless. Typical negative thoughts might be:
  • "I'll never get better."
  • "It's hopeless."
  • "I'm doomed to spend my days on the couch."
  • "Nothing I do for pain makes a difference."
CBT teaches you to give yourself positive messages.
  • "I'm taking control of my fibromyalgia, one day at a time."
  • "If I take a break and practice some pain techniques, my pain level will become more manageable."
  • "I'll schedule my activities more carefully so I don't do too much and get wiped out."
  • "Sticking with my exercise program will help reduce my disability."
CBT helps you set realistic goals. Don't expect your treatment to cure your fibromyalgia. Realistic goals might include:
  • Decrease pain severity from severe to moderate
  • Decrease the time you spend in bed or lying on the sofa
  • Increase your ability to do household chores and attend family activities and social functions
  • Reduce problems with mood or anxiety
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve bowel function
  • Reduce your reliance on medications
Try setting specific goals for yourself. Instead of "wanting to be more active," set targets such as "being able to shop for 20 minutes," "being able to walk 20 minutes each day," and "being able to cook dinner for the family."

Schedule your tasks for success. You'll be more successful if you break tasks into smaller segments. For example, if you want to do the laundry, load and run the machine in the morning, then do your stretching exercises, followed by a 10-minute walk. Switch clothes to the dryer in the afternoon and practice some deep breathing. Finally, fold the clothes while sitting down watching television in the evening. If you break tasks down and take breaks between segments, it will be easier to accomplish your goals.
The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life

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The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life

The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit tells readers what they need to know to take control of fibromyalgia symptoms. It includes step-by-step instructions for using effective non-drug treatments,...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.