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GP told me my fibromyalgia is being caused by underlying mental health issues


Hi everyone

I'm having a flare up and visited a doctor today to get a sick note and to enquire about new medication any other therapies etc as I'm struggling. She pretty much told me that my condition is being caused by underlying mental health issues (which she seemed to presume as I got tearful) and it's causing "inflammation" in my body....and to get rid of my fibromyalgia I need to sort out my mental state and seek psychotherapy. My first reaction was that she didn't know what she's talking about. Just thought I'd check your thoughts out too?


30 Replies

Hi she maybe means ,no sure if you have depression or anxiety disorders or both or other mental health ,if so they will exacerbate your fibromyalgia more severe and the severity will be there and also the other way round ,normal anxiety and a little depression as well ,if it is disorders it will be stronger and worse specially fatigue

in reply to Ajay575

Try not to let it upset you Ajay (easier said than done, I know!}. With me Fibro and mental health issues (anxiety, stress, depression) do go hand in hand. I have found, after decades of trial and error, that I need fresh air and exercise pretty much every day if I want to keep mentally OK. I try to go outside at some stage every day for at least 20 minutes - sometimes that means 4 x 5 minutes during the entire day - and for me that is the minimum. I also eat a healthy, varied diet and I have Finally accepted that I HAVE TO PACE MYSELF! It has taken me a long time to learn that!

The thing is, that everyone has their own form of Fibro and everyone also has to learn a way of balancing their own mental health and Fibro,

Not all GPS are as dismissive of what you are going through at the moment as the one you saw. Pluck up courage to see a different GP and, if you like, take someone with you for moral support.

Chin up, Ajay

in reply to Spanchic

Hi you mean Mcnallyl ,I replyed to Mcnallyl,?

Sorry to hear your having a really bad time obviously I wasn’t there but it sounds kinda rude and patronising in my eyes ok I’m not a dr but they should be a little more sympathetic even if they can’t be empathetic x

Hi, yes it can be a vicious circle, when we’re stressed it makes the pain worse and when we’re in pain it makes us more depressed and anxious, but actually they are two different things, there anything in particular worrying you at the moment, it’s so difficult , take care

Hi, yes it can flare it but I certainly don’t think you can get rid of it but getting rid of stress. Sadly it will always be there but it can be alleviated to a certain extent. My current flare certainly wasn’t brought on by stress, or any trauma I could think of (I’m also on the sick for fibromyalgia, this is the first time I’ve had to take time off). I totally feel for you, I don’t think GPs are very sympathetic on it at all especially the ones I have. I went the other week asking for scans as I never had any prior to diagnosis and my pain was just unbearable, and I was basically told that she would reluctantly send me for some because I was complaining of new symptoms but after that “I will just have to get over it and accept it’s fibromyalgia”. Take care, sending you lots of well wishes x

Been there. Got the tee shirt. But where do we go next? Been feeling so ill for last two years, and now literally think I am dying, I feel so bad. I am so tired of it all and feel like I have hit a brick wall. Have no support, no one I can can confide in who could possibly understand, and a OH who has his own medical issues, including dementia, trapped in his own bubble; knows I am ill but no help. Took him once with me to docs and his contribution was 'she doesn't like taking tablets'! So don't think you are alone. Take care. x

Apologies Mcnallyl! I’ve just replied to Ajay575 by mistake. I’m having a bad “brain foggy” day!

A very stressful situation Obviously, todays doctors are more like robots, sympathy, empathy goes a long way! Fibromyalgia is a physical and mental impairment recognised by law and you cannot separate one from the other. Fibromyalgia is essentially a nerve disorder affecting mood and other physical abilities (e.g. it has taken me a day to do a bit of cleaning due to fatigue, dizziness) I have read so much about fibromyalgia and know enough to make a judgement about my condition. Generally fibromyalgia is associated with trauma that leads to this debilitating condition. If you google this topic you will have enough material to see if you fit the description outlined by your doctor. NHS has got some fact sheet, just google Fibromyalgia NHS.

Please do not panic, this is a condition most of us have here, some manage to work with this condition some can’t, either way there is a health condition that affects the quality of life. My conditions are more than 1 so it is so normal for me to feel depressed.

Take care and I hope you have got what you have asked your doctor to do. Also you may want to ask your employer to make reasonable adjustment in the work place. Take care x

She was being patronising , make no mistake. Fibro is not caused by mental health issues. You may have Fibro and also have mental health conditions but it doesn't cause it. If you are stressed or depressed it has now been proven that a physiological change takes place to make that pain worse. It is obvious the GP needs far more training in this area as her knowledge is very limited. xx

Psychotherapy lets doctor off the hook. You follow up on psychotherapy you will pay a heavy price. The history of psychotherapy is one of finding all sorts of mental reasons for having the problem you have. This will enter your medical notes.

Lack of sleep, pain and loss of being able to do the things you once could will make you a little bit mentally upset until after you have got through the bereavement phrase. The bereavement phrase is one of time.

There is something called a "stress breakdown point". Below this point you will function albeit with difficulty. Stress above this point and you will fall apart. In a conversation with an experienced psychiatrist I had last week I was told that psychiatrists never look at stress breakdown point because it is not in the ICD-10. Many psychiatrists do not make enquiries of how much sleep their patients are having.

Lack of sleep will make you a little bit mentally unwell and you will display this to the doctor when you see them.

Contact MIND. They may be able to offer some help in regard to what is available that will not enter your medical records.

Cant put my thoughts here! Find another G.P outrageous attitude, all best wishes xx


I don't agree mental health is a 'cause' of fibromyalgia. It seems too easy to blame everything on mental health.

Fortunately my rheumatology doctor (have psoriatic arthritis too) explained that depression and anxiety can come on following diagnosis of a chronic illness, which in my case it has! Remember first few appointments I was ok, I've got this. I won't be beaten . I can get better. Then reality set in and depression slowly crept in. Noticed some symptoms exasperated too.

I would say there's no harm in speaking to a psychologist get help where you can but you need a more understanding GP!

in reply to Hidden

I’m fortunate, my GP is more clued up than most - he has a fair few of us as patients he has always said that mental health issues are a result of having Fibromyalgia and the lack of understanding that goes with it. Pity that there aren’t more like him about!

It's not just me that found it a little weird then....phew! I feel like she just wanted to shove a booklet under my nose and for me to be on my way. I made her refer me back to the rheumatologist even though she was reluctant. I'll ask for a different GP next time. I've been trying to eat well and get outside for a walk when I can. Thanks for the reassurance fibro family x

in reply to Mcnallyl

Yes, your GP was bull*******g you, Depression can be caused by Fibro, but not the other way around.

Can you see a different GP at your surgery? I tend to find that the younger GPs are more clued up about Fibro than the older ones.

It isn't so long ago that ME/CFS was dismissed like this and called 'Yuppie Flu'. Fibro is the current candidate for the 'it's all in the mind' appellation.

I won't take that from my GPs Surgery, I don't get depressed with my Fibro, I get angry with it for stealing my active, sporty life. I fight it every day.

Cheers, Midori


So sorry your doctor is a wally. I’ve had stuff like that said to me over the last 16 years. You are obviously a calm and lovely person; I’d have probably told her to take a long walk along a short pier! She evidently doesn’t ‘believe’ in fibro. If I were you I would try to see another doctor. And in the meantime print out some information for her to read; with a list of resources she can look at. Explain that good doctors always keep up with the latest research. I hope your flare soon settles x

Hi there I have had fibromyalgia for nearly 20 years. I have had past trauma which led to my mental resilience being weakened and yes I have heard these past traumas can be linked to developing fibromyalgia. But I also believe the fibromyalgia itself causes depression and anxiety as it has such a negative impact upon your ability to work, housework and do things like socialising. Fibromyalgia is a horrible illness and although there is no cure I have felt medication has helped. However these can have side effects so it's worth weighing up pros and cons. Take care and I hope things do improve for you soon x

Your doctor obviously doesn't understand fibromyalgia properly as my doctor didn't when I was diagnosed!

Mine has learnt from a colleague who knows about it more.

It does seem to be a little bit of a trend recently that they are reducing pain meds, which really isn't helpful not giving any alternative!

I have recently therefore started some strong CBD oils from a vape shop which at the moment appears to be having a positive affect

Gp needs to go read up about fibromyalgia, it is a nerve disease that is in the head, back of our head , nerve affects our body and make us flare up , I was diagnosed in 2017 , and I am know under at Thomas hosptial, consultants, neurologist , are still unsure , so close to MS it one of them dieases that awful and painful , no one we understand till they have it.

in reply to Mango07

Yes my neurologist said that fibromyalgia is a central nervous system condition sharing many symptoms with MS, this is why it is so difficult to diagnose, the misconception is the fact that, so far, as nothing concrete shows up in most tests that fibromyalgia isn't real, it most certainly is real and we all need respect. Do not put up with any nonsense. Rant over xx

Hi please don’t listen to her. I am lucky in that I don’t seem to get depressed or very anxious but I have fibromyalgia and all the usual physical problems, so that blows her theory right out of the water!!! Sure if you’re stressed anxious or depressed it can make things worse but imho it certainly can’t be the cause of it. Maybe think about changing your gp?So sorry you’re struggling at the moment, hope you’re feeling a little better soon,

Hi I had the same happen to me and I walked out she apologised and wrote me a letter to say she was wrong and she had done some more research it was possible she made a mistake go see the pain clinic and see people that deal with this sickness it has many different effects on each person stay strong get more advise and just maybe the mental health problems are only there because of the fibo best of luck x

BS. Its a neurological condition. Contact FM web site & they will supply a fibromyalgia information pack for GPs. Its sounds like yours is badly in need of educating.

And dont see her again until she's read it. It will only make your mental health worse

There are already many useful comments on here referring to depression and anxiety... all I wanted to explain is that they share the same neurological path in your brain as pain signals, which is why so many antidepressants are also prescribed for Fibromyalgia, albeit at different strengths.

I really wanted to talk to you about crying. Men and women experience grief and anger differently, because their response to these emotions was often corrupted in childhood. As a girl, I was told that stamping my feet, getting red in the face, shouting etc., were inappropriate ways of behaving... I 'educated' myself out of getting angry and resorted to tears to relieve the emotion, because this behaviour was rewarded. In the same way, young males are told "big boys don't cry" and learn to channel their sadness into displays of anger.

Next time you see your GP, if you feel your throat has a lump in it and your eyes start watering, you are NOT being "a weak cry-baby". Simply, stop and take note that what you are really experiencing is anger, frustration and fear. Hopefully, you'll regain your inner strength and use this to get what you really need, which may be a medication (such as Duloxetine) that helps with ALL the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, including the pain and the grief.

Meanwhile, how are you today?

Hugs, dee x


Sorry to hear you were given this statement to deal with. As I understand it from seeking help from many doctors & consultants (rheumatology, neurology, American specialist etc) & talking to many people with differing fibro symptoms, stress & anxiety can worsen fibromyalgia symptoms but aren’t the underlying causes, most likely the other way round! Fibro is usually triggered by just one major event either physically (operation etc) or psychologically, for instance loosing a loved one. Perhaps other fabulous fibro suffers here can comment more on these things. Please don’t worry yourself too much about what your doctor has said, perhaps it’s time to seek another’s opinion & assistance. Oh & yes I get upset too, usually with frustration!

Hope you’re ok


I normally don’t comment when I see several people already responded but this is an exception. When I read your post it angered me that a doctor would say that fibromyalgia is caused by a mental illness! She is not believe fibromyalgia is a real illness. I have been diagnosed over 25yrs now. I have been dealing with depression off and on over the course of my life. I have been told by psychiatrists that my depression is situational. My childhood was difficult in dealing with my dad who was a working alcoholic and very moody with violent temper and pout for a week before he would get over being mad at stupid little things. I was teased as a kid and had no self confidence nor self esteem. So my depression lifted while I was in nursing school. I let God take over and trusted in him. That was 85. It wasn’t until 9yrs later that I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It wasn’t until after it knocked me out of the work force and the fibro fog hit that was when the depression started up again. It has been off and on over the years. Something (an event) would happen then the depression would come for a while. The biggest blow was the nasty divorce that set me way back down a dark deep hole 🕳. So this may look like there is a contraction but depression is a secondary thing to fibro because IT IS A LOSS OF QUALITY OF LIKE not the causing catalyst. Fibromyalgia is classified as an autoimmune and neurological disorder not a PSYCHOLOGICAL disorder. If that doctor had sleep deprivation she would be experiencing most if not all the symptoms of fibromyalgia. She has it in her brain that fibromyalgia is not a real illness. My suggestion is fire that doctor and hire a new one. One who is sympathetic and understanding of people who are afflicted with fibromyalgia.

Sounds like the GP you saw has been reading some research or has been on a course recently and was spouting the opinion of whatever that have read or heard. I'd take it with a pinch of salt!

Try another doctor who specializes in muscular skeleton disorders (MSD) Also possibly be referred to a rheumatologist. Dr Chui may work in your area as he is a specialist in FM. I'm from the North West. I think I need to see him again myself but I do have a very good doctor who specialises in MSD.

If it was that easy to 'cure' FM we wouldnt have as many suffering from it.

Of course it makes you emotional dealing with chronic pain, fatigue and god know what else 24/7 ( that doctor should try it for 12 months herself!)

Yes, if you have mental health problems then, see another doctor, who can help you get counselling or if you can afford it go to a private one, just talking to someone can be a big help. If you have problems at home, again think of yourself and get help to sort out any problems. Look after yourself and be YOU not what other people selfishly need.

I have had FM for over 20 year together with OA and other spinal probs, add personal probs due to my other halfs problems /behaviours = mega stress , and bingo flare ups due to the added stress. But the FM started well before his problems, hes just added to them. I've had counselling, massages , physiotherapy, scans etc etc and NOTHING CURES FM. But all the above have helped and I've concentrated on what I need and what I can do. My OH accepts this and helps when asked.

It's a vicious circle which you can break, small steps go far.

I once had a doctor at the same surgery who said it was all in the mind, I dumped him and never asked for an appointment with him. He specialised in heart troubles, he was grossly overweight but ended up having a stroke and heart probs!!!!

Sorry to sound a bit harsh but you have to be firm and assertive with your docs and one step ahead by educating yourself on your health and mental health. Best wishes to you.

Hi McNally she sounds like an arsehole sorry for the language but fibro and mental ihealth issues go together!! If you are stressed anxious or depressed then your fibro will get worse. And being in constant pain which impacts on all aspects of your life will make you feel stressed anxious and depressed it's a horrible vicious cycle. That's just what happens and it is so difficult trying to make ppl understand this. It sounds like she does not really believe that fibro is a 'real' illness because you cant see it! Try to see someone else and explain you're not happy with her attitude. Remember dont be shy about letting her know you're not happy. You know what your body is saying and you need someone who will listen to you, support you and meet your needs. I know taking meds isn't for everyone but you need to talk to someone who understands and will give you something to help with the depression and pain. My GP is excellent he listens and will.not only offer medication but will refer me to rheumatologist, pain clinic, support groups and understands fibro is a condition that makes your life a nightmare. I hope you get the help and support you need and remember if your not happy let them know and speak to someone else even if it takes having numerous consultations. You can do it, if you are surviving fibro so you can survive the unbelievers! Stay strong, sending you positive thoughts love and peace 💕✌🌈

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