According to studies, negative emotions like anger and sadness increased pain in women suffering from fibromyalgia and simultaneously in those who didn’t.
In a study conducted on 121 women in the Netherlands, 62 suffered from fibromyalgia and 59 did not. Both groups were asked to think of a neutral situation and then recall conditions of anger and sadness. The effects of these responses were measured through a pain test involving electrical current. The participants were asked to press a button which switches on and passes a generally bearable electrical current through the participants. This was repeated when it turned painful and once again when they reported intolerability to pain.
From this, the researchers found that the women of both groups reacted to increased pain, responding to anger and sadness. They concluded that when the physical pain of fibromyalgia was felt, a greater emotional reaction was given. This is because fibromyalgia patients have an increased sensitivity to emotional and psychophysical stimuli, with negative emotions being experienced more forcefully than non-fibro patients experience.
In order to achieve these results, the team assessed the effects of their approach in a randomized controlled trial. They compared patients in a Waiting List Control condition (WLC) with those in a Treatment Condition (TC) to show improvements in the overall effect of fibromyalgia and in physical and mental functioning.
Participants were divided into two groups: a pain-avoidance group comprising 84 high-risk patients and a pain-persistence group comprising 74 high-risk patients. Later, they were randomized to either the WLC or the TC. There were 16 treatment sessions of CBT and exercise training, each geared to the patient’s individual cognitive behavioral pattern, done over a 10-week period. Physical and mental functioning and the effects of fibromyalgia were evaluated at various stages–baseline, post-treatment and a six-month follow-up.
The results of this trial show that when high-risk patients of fibromyalgia are given treatment customized to their specific problems soon after diagnosis, there is a definite improvement in short-term and long-term physical and mental outcomes. Foellow-up assessments and low dropout rates proved to be evidence of how beneficial this treatment was.