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Adrienne Dellwo

Role of Emotional Trauma in Fibromyalgia Questioned

By January 23, 2013

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Research Brief

A new study appears to poke holes in the belief that emotional trauma can lead to fibromyalgia.

Researchers looked at potentially traumatic life events in women with fibromyalgia and compared them to illness severity. They also looked into what the women believed had triggered the illness.

They found no relationship between traumatic life events and measures of health, including physical health, mental health, pain load and overall disability. They found no relationship between the perceived causes of illness and traumatic life events, either in childhood or adulthood.

The only correlation they found was that women who'd had a traumatic event in childhood were more likely to attribute their illness to psychological causes. That doesn't mean the childhood trauma did lead to fibromyalgia; it means that people with past trauma are more likely to believe it does. This research did not examine the validity of these beliefs.

The study raises the question of whether psychological trauma has been given too much weight as a possible causal factor of fibromyalgia.

Do you think too much emphasis has been put on things like childhood trauma? Do you think a traumatic event caused or helped cause your fibromyalgia? Leave your comments below!


Photo © David De Lossy/Getty Images

January 23, 2013 at 8:57 am
(1) Shawna says:

I have had low grade body pain all my life, and many illnesses and surgeries before fibro took over full-force. Debilitating pain and insomnia started right after a death in the family, a long-time pet disappearing, a stressful year of disconnection from my parents and then a small accident. I cut my hand, very deeply and required stitches. The doctor who sewed it up was inexperienced and sewed it crooked. It got infected with a weird rash and caused a lot of pain. It was THAT week it started. I think it was a culmination of all the mental stress paired with the [minor] physical pain and infection that did it.

January 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm
(2) marbeth mcconnell says:

I feel that stress was the cause of my illness nothing else could have cause it.

January 23, 2013 at 1:35 pm
(3) Kaye Hodges says:

There is no question of doubt in mind that severe strees caused mine.

January 23, 2013 at 1:41 pm
(4) Kaye Hodges says:

I also feel that severe stress caused mine,no question at all.

January 23, 2013 at 1:42 pm
(5) vigoureux says:

all my life i have had health problems from my 18 years 12 operations in 20 years the most problems are woman problems kystes and so on now 9 years ago a auto trafic accident and i was on march the pain never stop since never gone away

the emotional stress that the person who have make the accident and his avocats says that my back was twice operation had that they have doing nothing bad to my health but now theneuroligist have found that mine brains were touched i have learnde to accept my problems 3 ago when this neurologist have make his diagnosis and have trust my complains have a good day i like your page

January 23, 2013 at 2:40 pm
(6) sandy says:

I had stress after stress continually for 3 yrs on a daily basis & then i became fatigued/fibroed…my head was battered & now my body is battered/broke down.

January 23, 2013 at 3:20 pm
(7) Calla says:

Stress, physical or psychological, does lower one’s immune defenses – but doesn’t mean the stress itself caused anything directly. http://www.apa.org/research/action/immune.aspx

January 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm
(8) Jo Ann says:

Perhaps emotional trauma and stress from early in life contribute to the depression and anxiety that are a part of fibromyalgia for a lot of us.

January 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm
(9) SJ says:

correlation does not prove causation…

January 23, 2013 at 5:02 pm
(10) George says:

It’s easier to target a psychological cause (and dismiss a sufferer’s symptoms) than find a physiological cause(s) and effective treatments.

January 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm
(11) Corrine says:

I know that either I was born with a sensitivity toward fibro or something happened early in my childhood that triggered it. I have fought all my life with fibromyalgia symptoms just didn’t know what it was or what caused it. From what I have learned from my family medical history, I have a sister and our mother who both suffered from it to some degree I believe. I was officially diagnosed around 11+ years ago. It was a relief to finally put a name & description to what I had been battling all these years. Now to find a cause & cure, I am hoping for in my life time. If nothing else, I have learned it is not one size fits all & is not cut & dried black & white. Please don’t pigeon us fibro sufferers

January 23, 2013 at 8:47 pm
(12) Karen says:

How many people here have type a personality and worked in stressful job with stressful life experiences ? I worked in real estate and found it harder and harder to keep up with everyday life. My husband had a heart attack in June 09, suffered through financial problems, I took on another full time job etc. meanwhile my only child was playing sports and graduating from highschool so I wanted to be there for her. My stress led to long days on the couch, avoiding my cell phone, later going to work not looking perfect, couldn’t sleep, worked into the middle of the night, etc… You know the story. I quit working one year ago… But have worked some small event projects. I can’t get out of bed , fatigue , pain,
Just the thought makes me sick. So, as mucha as I want to work and be active I can’t. This one got me good. So yes, stress works in mysterious ways. Karen

January 23, 2013 at 9:00 pm
(13) SterlingHarpist says:

Yes, I am a Type A personality. Yes, I have suffered trauma. Yes, I have stress. However, I have had Fibromyalgia symptoms basically all my life – at least since I started school at age 5. I was disabled from Fibromyalgia in college, even though it was still un-diagnosed. In 1990, I was finally diagnosed, at the age of 25. I have lived most of my life in pain and exhausted. I cannot work. Yet, I cannot get disability from the government, because Fibromyalgia does not cause outward symptoms and it is perceived as being “all in your head.”

January 23, 2013 at 9:00 pm
(14) melissa says:

I think stress induced mine, but it’s also hereditary. It runs on both sides of my family. It got worse when I was under extreme stress from my job. I had no sleep every night, I stayed exhausted and in a lot of pain.

January 23, 2013 at 9:25 pm
(15) dj says:

I think cfs and auto immune viruses are a government experiment gone bad….three of my closest friends all got sick on the job. I got sick w/cfs, one friend got MS, the other began to get panic attacks so bad she was the first to become totally disabled. All three of us had our immune systems turning our young healthy twenty something bodies. That has been over 20 years ago. And I still feel it was caused by some germ warfare game.

January 23, 2013 at 9:26 pm
(16) Melissa says:

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis 15 years ago and have suffered from chronic migraines for over 20. I was only recently diagnosed with fibro, despite having many other symptoms for years (fog, pain, irritable bowel, anxiety). I don’t doubt that stress exacerbates my symptoms, but to say that stress causes this very real disease is, in my opinion, wrong, It’s just another weapon in the already big enough arsenal of the too-numerous skeptical doctors out there now who treat fibro patients as hypochondriacs and head-cases.

January 23, 2013 at 9:34 pm
(17) Melissa says:

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis 15 years ago and have suffered from chronic migraines among other fibro symptoms for 20 years but was only diagnosed a year or so ago. Whilst I agree that stress can exacerbate symptoms, to say that it causes this very real disease is, in my opinion, not only wrong, but sets back the progress we sufferers make in educating the medical profession and getting them to understand that it’s not “all in our heads”.

January 23, 2013 at 10:10 pm
(18) anonymous says:

I believe Fibromyalgia is caused by some kind of pathogen, probably from viral infections that linger. I think the trauma might have immediately preceded the illness but it is most likely it just caused a big enough breakdown of the immune system to leave us susceptible, or to trigger a virus that was already in hibernation in the body. It is like you cold sores come out on your mouth when you’re stressed. We all know cold sores are not literally caused by stress, but caused by a virus and _activated_ by stress.

I think it is sad that people are so willing to believe that millions of women just can’t handle trauma to the point they geta chronic illness, rather than face the FACTS that this is an epidemic spiraling out of control. So very little money is being put into research to find out the real cause, and in the meantime caregivers, friends and family of Fibromyalgia patients are at high risk of getting sick. This has been well documented. The sheer numbers of patients and the fast rate at which new cases are diagnosed is a sign it is infectious, let alone the scientific research that shows a less-deadly AIDS-like auto-immune disease at work in the body.

It is a LOT less expensive for the medical and insurance industries to prescribe counseling and exercise for a psychological disease than to do real biological research into pathogens. It is also much easier to deny disability benefits and other disability accommodation if they blow this off as psychological. Finally, nobody at the CDC or NIH wants to have to admit they sat idle while an epidemic grew out of control, unchecked. It is a total cop out to allow this to spread and blame the patients’ trauma. So why don’t ALL people with trauma get this disease, if trauma causes it?

January 23, 2013 at 10:29 pm
(19) Donna says:

I do not think mental trauma causes FM however I do believe it has some relation to the day to day pain levels of FM stress and stress hormones have been known to cause you to feel as if your pain is at a higher level and because of that it hard to tell if its the chicken or the egg is your pain high so it makes you susceptible to being traumatized or is it because of high stress due to anything including trauma that causes you to feel your pain at such a high level.We use up our resources just struggling by because we are in pain that causes a hard time sleeping and that makes you use up more resources and what happens when you run out of them..

January 23, 2013 at 10:34 pm
(20) anonymous says:

There’s a small but growing group on Facebook if anyone is interested, called ME, CFS, and Fibro Patients Against Psychological Profiling and all are welcome if you believe these illnesses are biological, caused by something physical not by trauma.
It is a closed group, so your privacy is protected.


January 23, 2013 at 10:44 pm
(21) Freda says:

I worked in a federal prison for approximately 14 years. In 1994 the agency decided to begin a computer recycling program with out storage or handling regulations, no protection for handling toxic material or any breathing protection apperatices. We had old computer monitors (CRTs) that we had to bust with hammers for years this has gone on. DoD sent radioactive material came in we even Sat on this toxic material. All the scull signs, cross bone signs were removed. Not one time did osha come in to check or test this crap now me (fibrmyalgia, auto immune system liver, colon deteriation bone. 2010 OIG investigative report found them to be 450 times over osha limit in 127′ building. That’s why mine I believe started. Trauma to my body immune system. Freda Norris Cobb.com story Peer.org, Ewaste Progressive magazine.org OIG Department of Justice federal prison 2010 Oct computer recycling federal prison industries toxic air in federal prison.

January 23, 2013 at 11:47 pm
(22) Sherry says:

I was/am an A type personality and my favorite words at work when handed a large project “Don’t worry, I’ll get it done if it kills me” Well it almost did kill me!

I put everything I had into my marriage, my kids and my job. I loved my job and I accelerated to the top in no time. That’s because I was a mover and I always got the job done!

I believe my type of personality type in addition to overworking and stress. Stress from when I was young, add my first marriage ‘from hell’ and then to top it off add me working 50 – 65 hours a week. I finally crashed and ended up on permanent disability at 42 years old.

So depending on the definition of ‘Emotional Trauma’ ?? I believe that body/brain overload of stress is only one of the factors causing this horrible illness… 10 years have passed since the start of my new disabled career and it’s HELL I couldn’t work a 40hour week for a million (even just one week)!
Every aspect of my life has changed thanks to Fibromyalgia… I don’t even think it’s avoidable… and I believe there is much more to be learned.

January 23, 2013 at 11:56 pm
(23) dfwmom says:

If you ask ANY woman about trauma in her life, she will have a story to tell. Therefore, I have been highly skeptical that they could actually prove an association between trauma and the illness. If all women have trauma, then how can you prove the connection?

My child has had this illness all her life, and her grandmother had it as well. It’s clear to me, in our case, that it is genetic, although I don’t rule out environmental triggers. Winter seems to make symptoms worse.

And, since we have been dealing with this illness, we can’t help but note how eager the medical profession is to hand patients over to therapists, because it is clear that they don’t have any medicines or procedures that actually work on this illness, and they know it. It seems to me that medical staff struggle, psychologically, to cope with an illness that they can’t treat effectively and can’t cure, just as patients do.

Last, but not least, it is a recurring theme, that if in doubt, blame the parent. For many years, autism was blamed in “Refrigerator Moms”. I have been blamed by school officials, and blamed by doctors for my daughter’s illness, and inability to get better. I felt that I had no choice but to put my child with a psychologist long enough to reassure the doctors that we had no deep dark secrets in our home, before they would accept that this was not a psychological illness. The psychologist did not help her at all, but I think it did clear the air with the doctors. There’s no excuse to put families through that, and it’s time that we move forward and start identifying and treating fibromyalgia like the real illness.that it is.

In order to make good progress on this disease, it almost seems that we have to put the medical community into therapy to help them move toward acceptance.

January 24, 2013 at 3:58 am
(24) Harmony says:

I have had a great deal of emotional trauma from early childhood to late teens, some of my symptoms have been present from a very young age….but in less concentrated, more isolated bouts. Do I believe that emotional trauma could be a contributing factor – Absolutely, do I believe that it is the sole cause of fibro – not, necessarily. If anything – this study should help support the position that Fibro is a very real medical condition and not a psychological illness (or all in our heads) as some medical professionals hypothesise! Thank you for the wonderful articles that help shed new light on this condition :)

January 24, 2013 at 4:23 am
(25) Harmony says:

I believe that emotional trauma probably plays some part, I don’t think it is the sole cause. I have personally experienced severe and prolonged emotional trauma from early childhood through to early adulthood. I suspect that this makes us more vulnerable/susceptible but that it is just one part of the puzzle. I’ve had many symptoms from a reasonably young age, but in more isolated bursts whereby the symptoms seemed unrelated – aching feet, ankles, legs (dismissed as growing pains), frequent migraines (never adequately explained/treated), aversion to heat, exessive sweating, etc, etc. Although my symptoms have now reached a very debilitating level – with multiple issues all presenting at once and much higher severity, and more consistent and unrelenting pain, it is also a relief to realise that I am not imagining it all, or exaggerating, or being a hypochondriac!

I think that many of us have been very driven personalities and have pushed ourselves well beyond our limits (or levels of endurance if you prefer), so often that eventually we reach a point where we have overloaded some circuits or something. Since emotional trauma triggers a fight/flight response I theorise that maybe, we have ‘burnt out’ that adrenal coping mechanism due to overuse over a prolonged period. I don’t think that’s the whole story either, but it seems to be a commonality that I’ve often noticed via shared anecdotal evidence.

I am pleased to hear about this study, as I think it is another step in the right direction as it tends to negate/disprove the theory that it is a ‘psychological illness’ and ‘all in our heads’ which is so infuriating!

Thank you for the wonderful insightful articles that continue to shed light on this difficult, hard to pin down condition!

January 24, 2013 at 4:27 am
(26) Harmony says:

Sorry for the double up on posts — didn’t think the first one had worked…

January 24, 2013 at 4:51 am
(27) carol says:

Prolonged emotional stress was a definate factor for me…My son was in a psychiatric facility for a year when he was 12…It was when he was scheduled to come home that I had my first fibro attack. My body went into muscle spasms all over..that was16 years ago..its still here.

January 24, 2013 at 9:58 am
(28) Fancee says:

PLEASE do not give the Dr’s any more ammo to sweep this issue into the closet! It is commonly known that the initial phase is caused by a medical illness when a virus is introduced into our immune system which messes with our immune system. Whether or not our bodies were psychologically stressed pprior to this is simply splitting hairs. If you are well informed, as most of us are since we often are more informed than many g.p.’s are, you will know that the official book of illness, known as ICD, is considering changing the ICD 9 code for Fibro to a ‘psychological’ illness! This is an outrage to every one of us who fight to get through another day!!

January 24, 2013 at 11:09 am
(29) Kara says:

I think the role of emotional trauma and abuse is complete and utter crap. I have had no sexual or emotional abuse in my life and have had moderate to severe fibromyalgia all my life. I did have major surgery when I was 7 years old, so that might have been the source of my life with fibro. Lots of allergies, and chemical sensitivities, a car accident when I was 26 that left me with bad whiplash and cervical injury. That’s when the fibro began to get worse and take over my life, until recently with a good rheumatologist who helped me take it back.

January 24, 2013 at 12:04 pm
(30) Rachael says:

To say my fibromyalgia wasn’t caused by an emotional trauma because I wasn’t mentally, physically or sexually abused is an incorrect notion. Stressors, or emotional traumas come in many forms, accidents, surgeries, infections, ongoing high pressure work, long-term relationship problems, loneliness, persistent financial worries, hectic schedlules and physical or mental abuse.

When one encounters stressors, the body’s stress response is triggered, and a series of physiological changes take place. What situations are stressors can vary from person to person and not every potential stressor causes stress in everyone. This is what makes us all unique.

What seems like a threat to one person may be perceived as exciting, or a challenge for another person. That is why not everyone
who is under what is perceived as stress will go on to develop FM. Not everyone was born highly-sensitive.

January 24, 2013 at 12:42 pm
(31) Judy says:

Hello A,
Great work as always. Does anyone know the Herpes1 drugs used in the Alabama research? I know one is Llysine not sure of the dosage.
My doc is a D.O. and is willing to treat me as he thinks the chances are high that herpes1 is the or a cause of FMS he said find out what it is and how much to take. I told him I plan to do my own research. I have 2 others looking at the research but cannot get a name. I have never had a fever blister but my mom did as a toddler. I am on Llysine 1000mg daily. Tested pos for herpes6 [never heard of] the report said I have Epstein barr CFS. They found the H1N1 flu virus and Lyme disease also Ehnlers Danlos and Osteopinia. Scientist said I cant beleive you are walking. I had camped in the NE 10 years prior and found a tick embedded in my calf. Pulled it out with tweezrs got a whole lot sicker with what seemed FMS gone wild. Got tested for Lyme twice my MD even used the western blot test neg. getting sicker. Scientist showed me lyme in my blood upon pricking my figer. He showed me these micro sized ticks eating me up. He put me on a heavy dose of cats claw and a rife machine. Moffit gave my frind 3or4 months to live untill she found Dr. Monus a naturpathic oncologist. poof cancer gone. She has a rife so I did it daily with her been 5 years now for her. I got better but am thinking this might be Chronic Lyme as I had it for 10 years. Does anyone know of the Tuscaloosa research? One is to kills the virus another to keep it from replcating and third??Thx Judy

January 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm
(32) Judy says:

I visted the fibromyagia releif center in S Tahoe. A chiropractor. he finds after a physical trauma or even Major surgery if head is hot properly supported, here come FMS. After one manipulation My RLS was gone, So was my IBS. I slept for 20 hours. The patients in the hotel were becoming alarmed. Is she ever coming out of their? i did and felt so rested Those 2 ailments never returned. Pain went down but if I did not get the neck manipulation 3 times a day the pain stayed on board. He says the relationship between the c1 and c2 are off kilter. Causing a tuging on the nerve menegees[spelling]. I watched people be cured and others that did not respond.We maybe are looking at a cluster of items.The study at Univ.Albama found 80% of FMS had herpes 1 and only a few had everhad a fever blister.

January 24, 2013 at 1:48 pm
(33) Abot Bensussen says:

My father had fibromyalgia, insomnia, lived on percocets. I think I had it since childhood, and I’m 72 now. I have been able to sleep with the fairly new medicine, Xyrem. These last six years I’ve done much better, more active life and less pain.

My emotions have always been too intense, re-active, and hard to handle. My four kids have this, too. But not fibro, not yet. My older boy died at 43, and he told me shortly before that he had stopped sleeping. So I think he was getting fibro. It just ruins our lives. I know it’s genetic. I remember my grandmother complaining a lot about pain in her joints, never smiling, maybe she had it too. My dad’s mother.

It’s a hard way to live, too sensitive, too tired, too much pain, and very little understanding by others and ourselves.

January 24, 2013 at 3:27 pm
(34) Susan Hass says:

I have had fibro symptoms as long as I can remember…way back to “growing pains” in my legs when I was about 7. Awful migraines for years from about age 10-38, when I had a hysterectomy. Then the migraines went away, but IBS began. Suffer still from chronic pain, IBS, fatigue, etc. My childhood was filled with the stress of living with an alcoholic father, and two chain smokers. I also did not eat well. I think the combination of stress, 2nd hand smoke and poor diet all contributed to my poor health. I no longer live with an alcoholic, or 2nd hand smoke, but still have a high stress level, due to several factors. I believe the damage was done at an early age, and the continued stress continues to cause problems.

January 24, 2013 at 3:40 pm
(35) fogmom says:

Perhaps trauma in childhood leaves a person unable to handle stress. If stress is the only life you know how can we recognize when we need help. What ever the causative factor in FMS we all know that stress makes it worse. There is probably a physical neurological factor that will be discovered someday. We pray for a magic bullet but meanwhile we must treat the disease every way we can. Including how to manage stress.

January 25, 2013 at 12:40 am
(36) Linda says:

I am thrilled to find that studies are being done such as this one. I have had a psychologist who seemed certain my condition was caused from stress. Although I have experienced some very stressful situations I do not fully believe that is the full answer. It seems to me it is more complicated than that and bottom line is that because the cause(s) are really only theories I tend to resent those who think they know the answers! My sister has CFS which is similar, which leads me to believe there is a genetic component or maybe even environmental. I would love to know the answers some day.

January 25, 2013 at 4:20 am
(37) Deb says:

I think there are many exterior, contributing factors, if ya want to look at em. Then look at them all. No this emotional factor alone is not the causation. Personally, I feel this is a neurological matter, yet to be discovered. But what do I know, had FMS since 1984.
I’m thankful for the conversation. Well past due.

January 25, 2013 at 4:36 am
(38) emmismee says:

I believe stress compromises the body’s immune system which allows environmental pollutants and illnesses to attack the body causing fibro. Genetically modified foods, processed foods, over used medications, etc make fibro symptoms worse.

January 25, 2013 at 5:35 am
(39) Beaner says:

I myself already at a young age of 12 began with gastritis, which went to ulcers. By 13 migraines began. I believe I had slight symptoms of fibro but they weren’t severe enough to even mention. But then at 37, I had to have a total hysterectomy. The Doctors went thru my c-section to remove everything plus had to do major laser surgery on alot of my organs down there that were covered with endometreosis. When I came to the first time, I hadn’t been given anything for pain. All I know is I felt like I had been sawed in half, my husband said I was half with it trying to crawl over the bedside rail because it appeared I was so besides myself in pain. That’s when all the slight symptoms and then some kicked in full board. I do believe myself that there is a connection. Plus like others said, stress!!!

January 25, 2013 at 6:58 am
(40) Dana says:

I started getting bad headaches practically daily after giving birth to my daughter 20 years ago. I thought that these headaches came from a bad epidural. I also has a lot of stressful life situations in my past.. I used to be able to sleep a few hrs a night and still take care of my kids while holding 2 full time jobs. I couldn’t even consider working right now with the daily stresses associated with working. I got my diagnosis 2 years ago, but the source is unknown. All the diagnosis did is put a title on my feeling ill everyday. If not headache & neck stiffness, it’s lower back pain. I walked around like this for 18 years being made to feel it’s all “in my head” from other doctors in the medical community. I see signs of fibro in my 16 yr old. She suffers depression and also has pain similar to mine. More awareness needs to be out in the medical community so folks like me don’t need to suffer for 18 years before getting understanding and a diagnosis…

January 25, 2013 at 7:19 am
(41) Pearl says:

I had mono at the age of 14 in the hospital for 10 days and out of school for a month seem to recover ,married 3 kids and in 2009 a lot of stressful events started taking place in my life,Got sick in the fall of 2009 bronkitis,,ebv, cfs,fibro,and now having blood work done for sarcodoises i do think stress,trauma ect played a part in immune break down that leads to all this……..

January 25, 2013 at 7:26 am
(42) Teresa says:

No stress involved here, I had to have a measles vaccine after my second pregnancy, it all started then!! Your mind does not cause this, it is something physically wrong. People wake up, the fact that a doctor says your mind is messed up and that is what’s wrong with you is WRONG, do you not read the things they have discovered in tests and studies they have done on our brain? There is something physically wrong. I’m so sick of doctors making us believe that stress and things that traumatize our minds cause this. There is something physically wrong with us, and until they open their eyes and believe this there won’t be a treatment or cure.

January 25, 2013 at 7:57 am
(43) Kim says:

There is no doubt in my mind that stress caused my fibromyalgia. I was under severe stress living with a verbally abusive husband and trying to support the household on my own because he was too lazy to work. I give no credence to this “scientific study”.

January 25, 2013 at 8:51 am
(44) Kathy Winans says:

I found out my son had severe adhd and then the meds he was on brought out turrets syndrome. Its right after that It all started!!!

January 25, 2013 at 12:36 pm
(45) jayne says:

I think the fibromyalgia which we know is when the nervous system doesn’t turn off the pain signals is a response to stimulation that can’t be seen or sensed with the five senses. Everybody I have ever met with fibro (including myself) has some degree of psychic ability. So what if our nervous system are reponding normally to a stimulus that can’t be measured by the medical community? What if it isn’t a disease what if its a healthy response? Just my thoughts.

January 25, 2013 at 12:38 pm
(46) Rachael says:

Many people experience emotional trauma in childhood, but don’t go on to develop illnesses like fibromyalgia. However, I do think that certain people have a predisposition towards certain illnesses. Some people are born more sensitive. Years ago, when patients suffered from diseases accepted as allergic, psychosomatic explanations were often given.

A group of illnesses known as the ‘holy seven’ were thought to have their origin in childhood. In the 1930′s to the 1950′s asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, essential hypertension, neurodermatitis, thyrotoxicosis and peptic ulcer were all believed to be psychosomatic illnesses. No one today would challenge someone with rheumatoid arthritis, or asthma and tell them that these illnesses are a figment of their imagination.

Once a biological cause and test for the illness is established, the illness is finally legitimized as a physical illness. The same will hold true for fibromyalgia one day.

January 25, 2013 at 2:46 pm
(47) Trina says:

I was in an physical, mental, emotional and sexual abusive marriage for 17 years. I don’t use my past as a crutch because it made me the strong person I am today. I was so busy raising 4 children I didn’t take time for me. It’s taking its toll on my health now. I do believe that the abuse in my past contributed to my fibromyalgia.

January 25, 2013 at 3:47 pm
(48) Patty says:

Everyone has stress in their lives, some severe stress and dont get or have FM or CFS. If you do have pain from stress, go see a psychiatrist and therapist. For the rest of us, were waiting on CNS and now finally Immunological tests to find out what ia causing the pain and the co-symptoms. Also, the lady who had the infected stitches, infection could of triggered an immune response or lack of one, which is exactly what the upcoming FM test will tell us.

January 25, 2013 at 4:03 pm
(49) Brenda says:

I believe that constant stress on a childs developing nervous system, such as abuse and neglect can harm that childs developing nervous system. Being in a constant state of fight or flight causes stress hormones to flood the brain and organs causing a breakdown over a long period of time. Also that same child without intervention will grow into adulthood believing they must please people and not take care of themselves first. Which leads to chronic illnesses. I have exhausted my nervous system so much that it had no choice but to go haywire. Now, I know to take care of myself first but the horse is already out of the barn.

January 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm
(50) Cheryl says:

I don’t know what causes FM, but I do know that I am third generation with the symptoms and my daughter and her son makes 5. I am looking at a genetic flaw/predisposition (sp?) . 5 generations do not come down with an illness solely caused by stress!

January 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm
(51) Lynn Nolan says:

Even as a child, I had the feeling that things were somehow different about my body. Gastro problems have haunted me sick I was a very young girl. I’ve always been susceptible to illness and infections. However, I also did suffer childhood physical and emotional abuse, so I’m not sure if it contributed to me acquiring Fibromyalgia. My life has been very stressful and I believe that having to be an overachiever to survive (full time working mother going to school at night without a lot of support at home) finally caused my body to break down or give in to full blown Fibromyalgia.

January 25, 2013 at 4:25 pm
(52) madalyn corbit says:

The short answer is no, I do not believe that the fibro/cfs issues I have are due to childhood trauma. I have had much trauma in my life, but do not attribute my health struggles solely, or even primarily, to that. I was a sickly child, born to a teenage mother who smokes like a chimney. Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS can make it far more difficult to deal with trauma, but I have NEVER accepted that it was the cause.

January 25, 2013 at 4:38 pm
(53) teresa says:

Yes I really do believe that my abusive childhood caused my fibromyalgia. Living in absolute fear for so many years of my childhood must have some negative impact on my health as an adult.

January 25, 2013 at 5:15 pm
(54) Cinda Crawford says:

I truly believe there is no shame that should be attributed to anyone whose health suffers and then he or she has trouble handling stress or a traumatic event. Don’t let anyone convince you that this is a blame game! When trauma strikes, the human body does become altered. It changes such parts as the immune system, nervous system and more. Not one of us is required to be a super person, capable of withstanding any amount of imaginable stress or trauma.

And if there is a mentally, emotionally-tied event going on and illness happens, it doesn’t mean that you or I are weak. We are a simply human beings with multi-faceted components. We do the best we can. Sometimes we can withstand a lot and remain healthy. However, when one part of us does fail or becomes overloaded, the “body” may not be able to take up the slack and go on in a healthy fashion. The truth is that when we’re not balanced and healthy on all fronts, illness can occur to anyone at any time. After suffering with Fibromyalgia (and CFS) for 15+ years before getting better, I believe Fibromyalgia is an especially opportune illness!! By reducing stress in a major way, most people can figure out a way to cope.

January 25, 2013 at 6:13 pm
(55) Deb says:

I believe that my fibromyalgia started with a childhood bout of ITP and was fueled over the years with many severe emotional traumas during childhood. I also had chronic bronchial pneumonia, bronchitis, tonsillitis and stomach ailments all my life. In 1996 I developed migraines, then an auto accident in 1998 was the last straw and the fibro gradually became worse and worse until debilitating me in 2010. I believe the combination of emotional trauma and immune issues were my downfall

January 25, 2013 at 6:13 pm
(56) Tammie says:

It’s important to remember that there is a difference in definition between cause and trigger. While the actual cause may well be something physical (vaccination, exposure to toxins, genetic susceptibility, inherent weakness in the nervous system immune system, or other system, etc), the trigger could also be physical, or it could be behavioral (poor diet, not enough sleep, etc), or psychological.

Even if the trigger is something psychological (chronic or long term trauma, stress, etc), that doesn’t mean that it’s all in your head. The trigger is not the cause. Stress or trauma does cause the adrenal system (fight or flight) to be overworked, though. Eventually this wears that system out and leads to physical issues. This is the case even if the stress is perceived as good, fun, or exciting. The body responds the same way to good and bad stress, so even someone who doesn’t believe that he/she has had any major stress or trauma in his/her life could still have stress as an underlying trigger.

January 25, 2013 at 6:21 pm
(57) Jenny says:

There is no doubt in my mind that emotional trama plays a huge role in fibromyalgia. I kept hearing about stress management and the role it plays is significant, through my doctor. I sometimes wonder about these studies when they discredit causes such as emotional trama. Ask us that live with it everyday, especially before being diagnosed wondering what is going on. Sorry, am I ranting? Having a bad fibro day. Thank you so much for your information though Adrienne.

January 25, 2013 at 6:44 pm
(58) Karen K says:

I also feel stress helped contribute to this..I had 2 pulmonary embolisms in Oct 09, and then again in 12 09 despite the fact that I had a Greenfield filter in place & was on Coumadin..I was also living in an area that I hated & wanted to go home desperately but we couldn’t sell our house. I was severely depressed & my anxiety was out of control.

January 25, 2013 at 6:49 pm
(59) Carolyn says:

I feel like it was in the genes,because my mom and dad and 2 sisters has it,and we are born with it.

January 25, 2013 at 6:59 pm
(60) MK Gilbert says:

I don’t think emotional trauma caused my fibromyalgia, but that I am much more sensitive to emotional trauma than the average person. I was born with “central censitization” and was a very fussy baby~overly sensitive stomach, skin and etc. Had Pink Disease (mercury poisoning) as in infant which means I’m hyper-sensitive to toxins. I don’t handle stress well at all. The severe fatigue started when I was 31 a few months after moving from the MidWest to the East (due to hubby’s job) and I think was definitely affected by depression and stress~I need to be near family. If we knew then what we know now we wouldn’t have moved so often~but he has ADHD and we moved every few yrs for a better job or to be back near family…The aches and pains of fibro came on more gradually. Now that I’m in my 50′s I’m in pain constantly, but not as severe as many. I’m told I’m tough, but I don’t believe it! I feel like such a whiner! The mood swings are the worst, followed by the memory/concentration problems…I used to have an excellent memory and was a laid back, easy going person. Now I feel like such a bad person when I get irritable and say things I shouldn’t. All my life I was made to feel deficient, bad, inferior, etc due to being overly sensitive.

January 25, 2013 at 7:02 pm
(61) Dopamine in Fibromyalgia says:

What many people don’t know is that chronic stress depletes dopamine stores in the brain, sometimes permanently. This is how stress contributes in causing a physical illness. Because of individual brain neurochemistry/neuroanatomy some people are more vulnerable than others to the effects of stress in depleting/dysregulating dopamine stores.
Dopamine plays a dominant role in natural analgesia within multiple brain centers such as the basal ganglia; ventral striatum, thalamus,and the limbic cortex.. Fibromyalgia represents a state of low dopaminergic function that develops subsequent to changes in limbic function following exposure to chronic stress.


January 25, 2013 at 7:07 pm
(62) Lisa says:

Definitely stress with me. I had 20 years of ongoing stress where I coped very well in the beginning till the end when I finally had a break down. Anxiety took over and I think my nervous system just gave way. I imagine the body can only take so much and mine basically said if you do not slow down I will physically make you and that is what happened. My fibro is related to my anxiety if my anxiety goes up so does my symptoms for fibro. I believe the mind and body cannot be separated in any illness.

January 25, 2013 at 8:05 pm
(63) Joan says:

My sister was diagnosed with a fatal disease shortly before my birth. My grandfather died of leukemia the week before I was born. My Mayo Clinic rheum. feels I may have been born with fibro. due to my mother’s extreme stress. My sister died Dec. of my kindergarten year. My 1st 6 years of life were in a home filled with sorrow and a hospital bed in the living room. The fall she died I had my tonsils out, chicken pox and measles. They feel my autoimmune system collapsed. By 3rd grade my fibro symptoms were well defined. I have suffered with fibro. and it’s related maladies all my 60 years. There is no doubt in my mind that in some cases fibro. can be caused by extreme stress.

January 25, 2013 at 9:06 pm
(64) miche says:

Mom passed away , house fire, divorce , car accident , all within a year having said that I don’t believe stress is the only cause , I was dieting and exersising to excess at that time , my immune system was taking a beating so to speak , I was also going through menaupose , came down with a cold and got a flu shot …….seems like the cold flu virus never went away , I havent gotten a flu shot since . I am always hoping to find a mutual connection between all of us with fibro , hasnt happened yet , too many theories and possible triggers , could be immunisations , meds side effects that may cause permanent damage, ( re: cipro and such ) many drugs have been taken off the market after it caused deaths , I also suspect food allergies as I had allergies and migraines all my life’ , some food definetely increase my pain and contribute to my IBS and reflux problem Many of us also have thyroid problems , another autoimmune problem , I could go back to a childhood trama , most of us have had a few but I know it’s a virus of some kind , when I’m in a bad flare I feel like I have a bad flu without the fever . I forgot to mention how my watch stops working when I wear it , yet it keeps perfect time in the drawer , problems with anything electronics , connection ?

January 25, 2013 at 9:50 pm
(65) rho says:

My theory is that every person is born with susceptibilities to certain conditions and/or diseases. We are the ones who got fibromyalgia and hopefully that’s all you got. Unfortunately, many people who get fibromyalgia also get cancer or other horrible diseases.
I believe that the stress that happens to everyone will cause conditions and diseases, depending on the weakness in each person’s body. I believe there’s still no way of knowing who will get what. Hopefully, one day people will be able to know what they will get as they age and be ahead of the conditions and/or diseases they eventually are destined to get. I think it’s easy to blame my horrible childhood on fibromyalgia, but I don’t think it’s true. I believe that the weakness in my cells in my body were predestined to give me fibromyalgia and the other diseases I have and that the stress of life brought out these diseases as I aged.

January 25, 2013 at 10:23 pm
(66) Paula says:

I believe that I was born with it. Stressful events may have exacerbated it from time to time; I think especially as I’ve gotten older that has happened. However, there are just so many times that I remember feeling sooo bad when I was a child and teenager. I’m in my 60s now, and was diagnosed in 1993, so have had a lot of time to think about it.

January 25, 2013 at 10:53 pm
(67) Joyce says:

I was perfectly healthy before 9/11. I worked a few blocks away & trully feel the stress & trauma of what I saw that day is why I became ill.

January 25, 2013 at 11:08 pm
(68) andrea says:

I’ve had chronic fatigue as far back as I can remember as a young child. A lifetime of sexual, and emotional abuse contributed to my fibro. As we’ve considered here, it seems to stem from both physical and traumatic events and regardless of the origin in either case the outcome remains the same as is the symptemology.

January 26, 2013 at 1:45 am
(69) Nancy says:

Most everyone will have some emotional stress in their lives if they’ve lived long enough. All people that have suffered stresses, even severe ones, do not develop fibromyalgia, and all persons with fibromyalgia have not had severe stresses.

I don’t believe that stress causes it. The onset on my FM was like a viral or bacterial infection that never has completely gone away. I’m convinced it has a physical cause. Fever, weakness, muscle aches, disoriented feeling, sensitivities to many things that I’d never experienced before in my life. I also meet the criteria for CFS and it all started with the viral/bacterial infection type illness.

Now I’m stressed, because I’ve been very ill for many years and unable to get better no matter how many doctors I’ve seen or what tests I’ve had. No one could want to be well any more than I do. I don’t suffer from depression and take no prescription medications other that for blood pressure.

January 26, 2013 at 3:27 am
(70) Catrina says:

I was molested as a child and later raped in high school. My fibro didn’t begin until 3 years after the last incident when I was in a major car accident. It’s been a daily pain battle ever since (16 yrs) that was only diagnosed 6 months ago because MANY docs didn’t believe me because “you are too young” to feel this way. “Maybe you just need to see someone and talk about the tragedies and it will get better. ” The “run-around” added stress undoubtably that led to significant increases in my myofascial pain, but I don’t believe my emotional stress prior to my car accident had any impact on me developing fibro.

January 26, 2013 at 11:39 am
(71) Elaine says:

I have had emotional trauma and extreme stress in my life. Oddly, now that my life is on an even keel, and I have very little stress to deal with I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Did past stress cause, who knows ?

January 26, 2013 at 2:31 pm
(72) barbara quester says:

i didn’t get sick until after i was deployed to the Gulf War. the stress and emotional trauma that i suffered from that deployment, i believe, triggered the CFS and FM that i still suffer from 20 years later. can i prove it? no. we also took malaria pills, and had shots, but who knew what we were injected with. also, the camp was sprayed with pesticides every other day, which got on our person, our uniforms, our food.
there is no way to know what caused my illness, but no one can convince me that stress to the body is not a likely cause of my disease. also, even 20 years later, any amount of stress causes me to not be able to sleep, then not be able to get up.

January 26, 2013 at 7:45 pm
(73) carolyn says:

I feel that stress might have led to increased severity of symptoms- possibly a virus and/or stress led to my fibro/chronic fatigue, but stress certainly makes it worse!

January 26, 2013 at 11:03 pm
(74) C says:

I don’t think that emotional events cause Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Chronic Myofascial Pain. I do however believe that stress can affect our physical health and in a sense make it necessary for our bodies to work harder to heal both physically and emotionally. When one is dealing with fatigue, pain and myriad of symptoms an additional problem for the body to deal with makes things more difficult and harder on us all way round.

January 27, 2013 at 1:05 am
(75) Deb says:

After reading all the comments and considering my own situation, I would say that Fibromyalgia is a physical condition that can be made worse by stress. I believe something (the unknown factor) causes our immune systems and our CNS to get to the point the Fibromyalgia becomes unbearable or we start exhibiting depression, fatigue, and panic attacks. I was able to work and live a normal life with fibromyalgia for years before I ever had a doctor suggest that might be my problem. However, I continued to get worse after I had the Rubella vaccine and my immune system broke down even more. I have been told I have CFS too — double whammy. Actually, I was shocked at the viruses I caught after a huge psychological shock in my life that will always affect me to a degree, even though I have been able to grieve and get over the initial sorrow.

January 27, 2013 at 11:09 am
(76) Maria says:

Many, many people have, for example,experienced childhood abuse and extreme emotional trauma. However, some have gotten physically sick and many have not. That being said, I was diagnosed with CFIDS a year after my mother died, I started a very tough job that demanded 110% of my energy all the time, and moving in with my bf who had a teenager-from-hell child at the time. I also had a hx of growing up with a bipolar parent at the time when there was no treatment for it, and was always on fight-or-flight alert.
My sister also has CFIDS and FM. This would indicate probably a strong biological connection. But she did grow up in the same household that I did! So how do you determine what causes these diseases? No idea.

January 27, 2013 at 12:09 pm
(77) Eva says:

After over 15 years of reviewing what might have caused my fibromyalgia in dozens of ways from psychological to physical, I’ve really come to hate this question. Despite a number of traumatic events, I no longer believe they were the primary cause but simply a factor. I believe in my case that my incorrect body posture influenced by scoliosis and tensions influenced by anxiety ended up messing with my central nervous system to the point of it becoming chronic. So yes, stretching and calming exercises do help, as well as warmth. But my biggest successes in times of reduced pain have definitely had far more to do with physical therapies and warmer weather than years of psychological counseling. So I don’t buy that trauma really turned it all into chronicity. Nutrition and financial security issues are also big factors. What matters most, though, is how to find the most effective relief!

January 27, 2013 at 3:08 pm
(78) cindy says:

I think we have been told over and over again that it’s all in our heads. I have never believed it was caused by something that happened to me. It’s an illness, just like cancer or any other kind of illness. Of course there are many that have tried to say cancer is your fault too. There is no fault in this, it’s just illness.

January 27, 2013 at 5:36 pm
(79) Elle says:

There isn’t any history of abuse in my childhood, or extreme exposure to stress. I experienced some difficulties with work- related stress in my 20′s when my illness began, but that’s certainly not unusual.

Am I sensitive to stress? Absolutely. Do my symptoms flare with exposure to stress? Every time. However, I believe that I’m sensitive to stress because of my illness, and not ill because I’ve encountered stress.

Stress perpetuates, and can trigger illnesses like FM, but it shouldn’t be labeled exclusively as a cause – there isn’t enough evidence, and it doesn’t explain cases like me. I believe that labeling FM prematurely as psychological in origin (psychosomatic, or somatoform) has lead to, and will continue to lead to potentially damaging outcomes for patients.

Even though it’s extremely unjust, the medical community tends to marginalize anything that isn’t physiological in nature – it’s starting to get better but we still have a long way to go. While I agree that we shouldn’t ever discount the legitimacy of illness that are born from emotion, I also feel that putting this label on FM is inaccurate, and will slow our progress in finding a cure. By grouping us half- hazardously in this way, it adds a whole new layer of stigma and misconception for us to have to break through, and slows progress towards isolating a physical cause.

There have been lots of studies that look at correlation between illness with early trauma- most showing similar results for people with breast cancer, crones, and many treatable immunological illnesses. Lets all agree that stress perpetuates ALL forms of illness, and move on to find a cure that is specific to our own.

January 27, 2013 at 6:14 pm
(80) Rachael says:

For the many sufferers of CFS and fibromyalgia:

Quote: “That which medicine can’t explain we tend to label psychosomatic and blame the patient, a cruel phenomenon all too familiar to those who’ve had MS, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus, and a myriad of other ailments in decades past.”

The Huffington Post: John Falk: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome And Psychotherapy

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-falk/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-_b_829651.html

January 27, 2013 at 6:36 pm
(81) Pamela says:

My fibro happened years after my child hood and domestic violent relationship and before my son was born with Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy, we endure a dozen devestating surgeries and my husband had a scary and severe midlife crisis. I have endure much stress and in the calmest part of my life, I start to hurt very badly and couldn’t understand why until 6 years ago. Not stress related here.

January 27, 2013 at 9:23 pm
(82) Jennifer says:

For me everything went down hill after I fell on ice at work. I completely flipped and landed the opposite direction. It happen so fast that I had no time to react to catch my fall. My neck and chin took the brunt of the fall. At first i was scared because it knocked the wind out of me and I couldn’t talk. But when a co-worker found me he seen all the blood, wrapped my chin and got me to the hospital. 9 stitches, and i was sore, but never thought anything of it. 3 months later I had tendinitis in my wrists, right worst than left. (I am right handed), then when my elbow, then my shoulder, then my upper and lower back. Went to lots of physiotherapy, but nothing got better and said it was chronic and probably wouldn’t get better. Couldn’t work and got depressed. Finally got an x-ray and found out I did damage my neck, and I have Cervical disc disease, and 3 vertebrates that are facing to the left instead of straight. The figure it must be from the fall. Soon after I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and the symptom just keep coming. I have chronic fatigue, wide spread pain, my knees give out, IBS, insomnia and so much more!

I believe my Fibromialgia was caused by a trauma to my spine.

January 28, 2013 at 11:06 am
(83) Rebecca says:

I have never felt like I had the same amount of energy as those around me. I never got over morning sicknesss in pregnancies. After I had the chicken pox when I was 30, the pain in my body became so much worse. I know that was a huge turning point in my illness.

January 28, 2013 at 1:08 pm
(84) Margaret Michal says:

I have no idea what caused my fibro. I remember feeling more of a reaction to pain most of my life. I felt like a real life version of ‘The Princess and the Pea.’ By that standard, I am a princess. I felt pain when I was tired or didn’t sleep well. I didn’t get into real trouble until after a severe depression.. I had one rheumotologist suggest that I had fibro because I was sexualy abused as a child. He thought that I should see a therapist to address the problem. Then, he said, I wouldn’t go to the doctor’s so often. I wasn’t sexualy abused.My fibro just gets worse. I have been trying to work one day a week. That one day causes days of pain afterward. I feel like my whole life revolves around that one day. I get tired after visiting with family and friends. After a few hours, it is difficult to deal with talking. I think that I have been psysiologically predisposed to fibro. The tension and stress seemed to set up a cascade of illness.

January 28, 2013 at 1:46 pm
(85) Carol says:

There’s not a soul that I know who hasn’t had their share of traumatic events in life. It seems life places trauma, and huge amounts of stress on most all of us. What I can say is that stress plays a HUGE roll in how my body reacts in regard to fibro. I do have a type A personality. Previously worked very high stress jobs. Now I cannot work. Also had many life changing situations that literally took me over the edge emotionally. Fibro has destroyed my mental and physical well being. I can do things just a little bit at a time. At least I am able to be with my family and do what little I can for them. And when I look around I can still see many people who are in much worse condition than I am in.

January 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm
(86) Suebee says:

I know that some of my symptoms go back to when I was a teenager. The rest showed up after I had Encephalitis in 1997. I think that stress can be a trigger, not a cause necessarily. My boyfriend has lymphoma (cancer of the lymph system) No one knows the cause of that either or why some people get it while others don’t. I’ve heard that stress can cause cancer too. Who knows? I don’t think my stress levels are that different from anyone else, and I don’t have any emotional issues. My daughter has immune problems including psoriasis. She has had several miscarriages due to her immune issues. I can’t help wondering if the fibro, central nervous system and immune systems are somehow inter-related.

January 28, 2013 at 4:51 pm
(87) Dee says:

Rarely does Fibro/CFS occur in isolation. There may be an underlying factor such as concurrent auto-immune dysfunction. There are also what I call overlaying factors such as sleep apnea, which can disrupt the sleep pattern leading to fatigue, headaches, mental fog and additional pain. Another factor is diet. It is not commonly appreciated that fruits and vegetables do not contain the nutrients they did generations ago due to soil depletion. Consequently, it’s difficult to obtain sufficient antioxidants from the typical American diet.

I suspect, too, that bodily pain is exacerbated by chronic infection. In sensitized individuals, bacteria and yeast play a role in exacerbating asthma, allergies, etc. Case-in-point: In addressing my chronically infected tonsils, sinuses and bladder, I reduced the severity of fatigue and body aches without prior expectation of such benefit (hence my theory that infection plays a bigger-than-appreciated role in Fibro/CFS).

Studies show many of us do not get enough sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency is a risk for frequent infection and even Multiple Sclerosis! Fitness is another factor. The worse one feels the less one is inclined to exercise because exercise triggers pain. Paradoxically, though, exercise is what helps the muscle tissue rebound faster by which to handle daily tasks.

Unfortunately, Fibro also seems to mean that injuries rarely heal properly and/or recovery is protracted. Of particular torment is the spine, where degeneration/herniation continues to limit my activities 14 years post injury. Still, I am focusing on better health through Omega 3 fatty acids, D-Mannose for urinary tract health, spices such as Turmeric to reduce inflammation, herbs such as Devil’s Claw to combat pain, Colloidal Silver (as an alternative to antibiotics I am allergic to). I feel I am at last “on to something” and while it may not be a cure, I know my health will benefit in more than one way for the effort to combat Fibro proactively.

January 28, 2013 at 5:38 pm
(88) Dee says:

As to triggering factors, I don’t think stress explains it. My sister and I, who are 10 years apart, seemingly contracted CFS/Fibro at the same time. I was still in my early teens, and for both of us living with pain and fatigue day in and out came on the heels of a severe intestinal illness, which we presumed to be food poisoning. It sickened the three of us who were in the household simultaneously. We were too sick to even get ourselves to a doctor that summer. I faded in and out of a semi-conscious state for approximately 10 days of unrelenting intestinal/stomach distress. Not long after,

When my Titer count went through the roof and my knees began to inexplicably swell to the size of grapefruit not long after the apparent case of food poisoning, I was diagnosed by an RA specialist with what was called “Yuppie Flu” (Ebstein-Barr). (The tests for juvenile arthritis and the like were negative, and the joint swelling, which supposedly isn’t a feature of CFS or Fibro, remain unexplained.) (Once upon a time, doctors speculated that Yuppie Flu was triggered by a poor or incomplete recovery from Mono!) In any event, each of our immune systems went downhill. My sister was told she had “serum sickness” and spent six months hobbling around on a cane, while also challenged by debilitating headaches. I went from having sporadic childhood asthma to chronic and uncontrolled asthma requiring daily meds to the present day. Both of us developed chronic infections of the tonsils and sinuses, which eventually required surgery.

My sister and I are combating Fibro to this day, some 25 years later. I am inclined to believe a severe reaction to an apparent case of food poisoning was the trigger. In fact, I learned purely by chance that the author of what would later become the hit movie “Sea Biscuit” developed Fibro after severe food poisoning. I wonder how many other people share this dubious “coincidence”?

January 29, 2013 at 4:33 am
(89) Debra An says:

I believe that the stress that a trauma causes can lead to these illnesses. Before I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and CFS, I was so stressed out by what the military did to me by making me homeless by separating me without a medical board. Then sending me home with injuries, which were misdiagnosed and later found to be worst that I needed surgery to correct them. Due to my civilian job not taking me back do to the injuries, I had no income. Next my daughter was taken from me, as the judge said I have no income to support her and I could be deployed. She was given to my mentally and physically abusive ex. The dead beat! Next I was in 5 auto accidents in less then 2 years time and ended up homeless thank to the US Army and my injuries that I sustained on active duty! I Had surgery to try to correct the military injuries. Not to forget about all the stress and trauma I had when I was on active duty. Dealing with the nightmares of that, is horror in itself! I ended up homeless as I could not pay for rent for my mobile home. I lived in my car for years. All of the overwhelming stress and pain and suffering from military injuries and auto accidents which I did not cause. I was standing still waiting for traffic to move on the freeway. All those people just were not paying attention to their driving. None of the accidents had anything to do with a cell phone. One girl was messing with her truck radio, two others where paying more attention to their passengers, one guy just could not stop in time and his anti lock brakes caused him to hit me. one guy was trying to switch lanes and did not do so successfully! With the traumas both physical and mental and the overwhelming stress of the !!ell I lived in my illnesses came with a third added gift of another illness, Hahimoto’s Thyroiditis! So I feel it all lead to my illnesses!

January 29, 2013 at 5:08 am
(90) Debra An says:

I just wanted to add one more thing that may be helpful for you all. After having suffering from depression from being raped at age 19 and being molested as a child, I was given through out my life numerous different kinds of medication to try to help me with the depression. From Anafranil to Zoloft, from SSRI’s to Lithium nothing helped! Not one lousy pill, I was misdiagnosed two times and the last pill gave me permanent twitches in my body! After over 40 years of having depression, one thing changed my life! I was up late watching a infomercial about a omega 3 pill that they extracted from a mussel that is pharmaceutical grade. It was called Omega XL. I listened to it and they also claimed it help with people suffering from pain from arthritis, so I figure it was a lot safer then all those dangerous pills I had taken, maybe it will work, what do I have to lose, just money. But how more could I gain, lots! So I ordered it and tried it as they directed 8 pills starting a day for 1 month. Then tapered down to 5 a day which I currently take, unless I have more pain from stress of my life, or my doctor forgets to fill my morphine or percocet on time! I was amazed at the results! I thanked God I got my life back, no more bed for me! I was out the first week pulling weeds from my front yard, it worked past the CFS and allowed me to accomplish more then I had in years! My pain level I noticed decreased a bit too. However my pain did not go away, but it did decrease, which was great for me! I have been on it for over one year and a few months now and I have to say my depression is very rare. If I get depressed it is only maxim for two hours then leaves! I had from September 2011- September 2012, 6 of my relative pass away. One of these was my aunt who was like a mother to me, as she lived with us when I was growing up.

January 29, 2013 at 5:10 am
(91) Debra An says:

Continued from previous post #80.
I even had my pet rabbit die late last year and did not suffer long episodes of depression. Like I said it only lasted at the longest 2 hours and left! To think all my life I have had a Omega 3 deficiency! I had tried another brand but it did not work any where near the same, matter of fact the other brand which was also pharmaceutical grade did nothing for me! That OMEGA XL has been a real life saver for me, I just wanted to share my result with you all! They are on the web! Warmest Regards and Happy New Year!

February 4, 2013 at 1:40 am
(92) Maryhelen says:

Stress I have had alot over the years. Caregiving for parents. Working and doing so. Taking care of your own family too. The stresses of raising young people on this earth. Lots of losses. Had bad fall and hit head and tail bone. Not doing well since. Had to quit work and just tend to myself and family.

February 5, 2013 at 10:38 pm
(93) Maryhelen says:

Just that I did have alot of stressors in my life with this came on me.. I then had a fall, with a hard blow to back of head and tailbone and from have just gone downhill. I’m really not sure their connected but I wouldn’t be suprised…

February 6, 2013 at 5:13 am
(94) Anne says:

Fibromyalgia, as we all know, is the name given to a set of symptoms – cause unknown. Isn’t it possible that it could have a physiological cause or a psychological cause – or a combination of both – causing similar, often identical symptoms? Physical (virus, overwork, injury etc.) or emotional (abuse, bereavement, natural disaster etc.) stress can affect the body in many ways, including affecting the brain. Perhaps both are right. Perhaps fibromyalgia sufferers should be treated as individuals as their symptoms can vary widely and their life experiences can be vastly different from each other. I believe my experiences of severe trauma as a child caused developmental abnormalities in my body and brain and left me with chronic pain, fatigue and PTSD. I do not consider myself a “head case”, just someone whose body and mind reacted to stress in the way it did, and I strive to be well!

February 7, 2013 at 8:09 am
(95) julie says:

iv been unwell for 13 yrs since the birth of my son who was born by emergency cesarian section 6 weeks early and due to the epidural causeing me to have 3 blood patchs which didnt work and unable to bond with my son after birth due to me being so ill with really bad headachea and light causing pain in my eyes .iv not been my self since iv suffered with pain and unexplained illnes symptoms and went throu a early menoupause at 34 had to stop working due to pain then being diagnoised with ostio atheritis and for the past 10years being fed pain relieve meds that dont agree with me now i hav digestive problems bowl discomfort and have lost my social life friends quality of life and cant do things with my kids like i want iv battled with mamy docs to find out what is wrong with me and have had to go threw my medical notes to see what doctors have thought of my illnesses iv finally found a doctor who believes me and is sending me to see a doctor who will finally diagnois me with what i already know fibromyagia

February 10, 2013 at 11:46 am
(96) Dinah says:

I have had multiple traumas both emotional and physical before The last straw happened. It was right after another physical trauma from which I thought I was having a hard time recovering from – further assessment – diagnosis fibro. I am also a nurse – I self diagnosed then the Dr set up all the various studies to verify it – they were positive. Does the writer find any correlation with the worsening of symptoms during or after illness or emotional crisis (even minor). A good study will find that this is significant in the fibro sufferers life/health. There might be an issue of after so much trauma – emotional/physical the body just says that is all I can take and fibro enters into that life. I also believe that fibro is familial. That is it is prevalent in a family for generations even. My father had it. He was diagnosed yrs after I was but had been suffering from it for decades. I’ve see this in my patients lives as well.
There are just some persons who want to say this is not a real condition and with that insurance won’t have to pay for it.

February 18, 2013 at 5:28 am
(97) cindy says:

Without a doubt, it was stress. Dad died of cancer when I was 21 and I was married for 20 years to chronic alcoholic and drug addict. I can remember the pain each time I had a new one. I got divorced at 40 and had a very kind Doctor ask me if I had ever heard of fibromyalga. I had because my mom has it. Eight years later…..the battle goes on.

February 18, 2013 at 6:11 am
(98) Rose says:

I believe that chronic stress, both of the mind and the body has left me vulnerable to some as yet unidentified, but most probably environmentally artificial, emissions or toxins.

February 18, 2013 at 6:26 am
(99) SB says:

I have had several diagnosis of big consequence, chronic fatigue, osteo chondrites dessicans, fibromyalgia, chronic Myofascial pain syndrome, chronic pancreatitis… All these are happening. I had some trauma as a child, but for me that gave me the strength to be OK despite a body that isn’t.
Too much emphasis is on the emotional/ in the mind part of body dysfunction that is labelled.
Fact: something is wrong with the way my body works!
Fact: these cause major disruption to succeeding in having a ‘normal’ life.
Fact: there is trauma at all stages of life, the impact is not relevant when there is dysfunction in the body… It simply means that the mind of that person needs support.
Fact: the more emphasis that is put on the emotion/in your mind, component of chronic body dysfunction-the more trauma you cause the person trying to live with it.
Trauma as a child or trauma due to professionals willing to dismiss the trauma of living in pain with no cure, no real treatment and no real support, is irrelevant!
The pain is real, the physical dysfunction is real… Work out why and how to help rather than if trauma was something we all shared. We are in trauma now!

February 18, 2013 at 8:03 am
(100) Linda says:

I believe fibro is caused by trauma. I (We), my sisters and I, were brought up in a very dysfunctional home. Verbal and sexual abuse. I married and my husband became an alcoholic which brought a lot of problems into our home. I raised three kids and worked 40 hour weeks during this time. My husband was not around most of the time.

Starting in 2009 I have lost many family members and friends. First my only brother passed away, two months later my mother and ten months later my dad. After these deaths I became severely depressed and my fibromyalgia got worse. My two older sisters both have fibro. One sister was in an abusive marriage, her husband died. My other sister has a tumor in her head which is now cancerous. So you see we have all suffered trauma in our lives. We were diagnosed by different doctors at different times.

I have stopped working because I just couldn’t do it anymore. I am suffering from depression and constant severe pain.

February 18, 2013 at 9:48 am
(101) Rhonda says:

I don’t believe that for a minute! Stressors on the body come in many different forms and the body doesn’t differentiate between one type of stress and another. Stress is stress and it certainly does affect the body in many ways.

February 19, 2013 at 1:06 am
(102) Susie says:

Absolutely! If someone has gone through some “traumatic events” in life such as maybe a husband who got abusive or a sexual assault what have you that causes emtional and psychological trauma and when that person thinks of it causes the body to relive those events. That is why alot of people are misdiagnosed with bipolar “manic depression” and treated with the wrong meds all their lives when in all actuality it is post traumatic stress disorder. I think the best source for these types and especially sufferers of “fibromayalgia” definitely need an excellent therapist that they can do “talk therapy” with. With the right talk therapist, counsilor, or psychologist this I think is the best treatment option goal to gain in order to gain your life back again no matter what age. Also, with fibromaylgia managing it with the proper medication takes time but with time comes experience and soon you will be on the road to recovery. Good Luck!

March 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm
(103) Angela Jones says:

I am certain that my Fibro was caused by emotional trauma… unless you consider molestation’s to be physical trauma.. which, it is.. in a way.. I have had Fibromyalgia since I was 5.. that was when all these bad things have happened to me… It did get worse when I had surgery on my tailbone, but I DID have it when I was very young… mostly with IBS and painful muscles… and I was voted “Most likely to forget” in grade school… and I have been that way all my life…

July 8, 2013 at 3:04 pm
(104) W Larson says:

Stress most definitely is the cause of my fibro. I am a man with Fibro, yep, this “Woman’s disease” affects us guys too. Most guys with it probably are not willing to speak up about it. In my case, it feels like severe bruising like after an MMA match, Taekwondo sparring session, or like the pain and tenderness that one would get if they were hit with a baseball bat repeatedly.

I was working as a Project Manager charged with trying to bring a company back from the brink of bankruptcy (already a very stressful job) when my wife was diagnosed with two types of Leukemia. Keeping my family together, keeping a mid-sized company from going bankruptcy, and the very real possibility of losing my wife to a liquid cancer was too much. As my wife (now in remission) puts it, my body just “broke” under the stress, and now I feel stress as pain.

As life is slowly returning to normal, now 5 years after that rough time in my life, I find my low stress days are low pain, and my high stress days are high pain days. Unfortunately, being a working adult, the sole provider of my family, and the caregiver of my wife when she needs it, I do not have the time to exercise or participate in self relaxation techniques regularly. Perhaps some day life will slow down enough to make that happen.

August 19, 2013 at 9:04 am
(105) sharon stanton says:

I think it could lead to flares for sure, but the cause for getting fibro, I myself do not think so.

October 30, 2013 at 10:11 am
(106) Memenomore says:

I was a battered woman 20 some years ago. Over the last couple of years my daughter lost custody of my 2 beautiful grandson’s. They brought up reasons from 20 years ago as to why I couldn’t have custody of the boys or even visitation since another family was adopting them. I had developed a strong and bonding relationship with both babies since their mother wasn’t doing what she should. The emotional trauma of losing my grandson’s did lead to the onset of my fibromyalgia.

November 7, 2013 at 4:14 am
(107) bryan says:

I have a question which I would like to ask
I am dating a person with Fibromyalgia and things are up and down and I do understand and support her as much as I possibly can.. However the question I ask is Can fibromyalgia cause a person to have no emotions? as in feel no emotions to a person one day and the next day they do…it is as though the can not discern if they have feelings or not?
I just want to understand better as I do really care for this person and I want to be there for her the best way I can…

Thank you

December 1, 2013 at 4:24 pm
(108) Karen Seidel says:

I believe whole heartedly trauma and stress caused my fibro. My child hood was great, however as an adult I spent 16 yrs in a relationship where there was abuse physically, mentally and emotionally. I then went through a very ugly divorce which caused alot of stress on myself and my children. Because of the abusive marriage my oldest left home at 16 and the other two didn’t like the rules at my house so they went to live with their dad. It has been almost 7yrs since I’ve seen or talked to the two children that went to live with dad. When my two children went to live with there dad my health declined drastically. I went from physically fit to extreme pain and fatigue daily and haven’t recovered since.

December 1, 2013 at 9:06 pm
(109) Angela says:

My started when my ex husband started cheating on me. I have had pain all my life but this brought it out for sure.

January 7, 2014 at 11:05 am
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February 12, 2014 at 1:09 am
(111) Maria says:

Totally believe that Fibromyalgia is developed by stress/trauma. I had a terrible childhood, and besides that, 23 years married to an abuser. Lived in fear…

March 28, 2014 at 3:59 pm
(112) Alina Frank says:

I find this article interesting because this has not been my experience at all. I teach EFT (emotional freedom techniques) and fibromyalgia is one of the things that it’s known to collapse in a short period of time. Many books such as When The Body Says No are great references and give examples of the role of pain and emotions and a certain character structure that is more likely to develop these conditions.

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