Depression Commonly Mistaken for Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
A wide variety of chronic disorders of suspected neurological causes such as Fibromyalgia (FMS) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFIDS) involve the existence of symptoms such as sadness, fatigue, anxiety and confusion, symptoms that generally occur in patients with depression. However, after conducting a series of medical investigations, scientists have revealed the fact that lots of patients with clear signs of depression have been misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome over the last few years, even if they showed no other symptoms characteristic to the mentioned syndromes. Medical scientists explain that due to poor understanding of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, the risk of confusing FMS and CFIDS with depression and other treatable psychological conditions (which rarely involve symptoms similar to FMS and CFIDS – generalized fatigue, intense, recurrent muscular pain, joint rigidity) is very high.
By revealing the fact that most patients with depression are still inappropriately diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, the recent medical research has suggested that the incidence of FMS and CFIDS may actually be lower than previously thought. Today’s overwhelming number of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome cases registered especially in the female population may be inaccurate, researchers suspecting that the number of such cases is in fact considerably lower.
Medical scientists state that most cases of misdiagnosed depression occur due to imprecise criteria of diagnosing neuropsychological disorders. According to neurologists and psychiatrists, the symptoms of depression can resemble the clinical manifestations of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. Such symptoms comprise fatigue and states of muscular weakness, with the difference that in patients with FMS and CFIDS they occur purely due to neurological causes, while in patients with depression the symptoms are self-induced. In fact, neurologists and psychiatrists claim that fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and depression are somehow related. They inform that although patients with depression rarely develop fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, patients with FMS or CFIDS can eventually be faced with depression.
In order to reduce the number of future cases of misdiagnosed depression, medical scientists have come up with more elaborate criteria of diagnosis. In the absence of major FMS or CFIDS indicators and with conclusive evidence of the presence of the following signs in patients, medical scientists believe that depression can be timely and accurately diagnosed. The specific criteria that should be used to diagnose depression include: indisposition and depressed moods, loss of interest in hobbies, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, decreased concentration and rational judgment, fatigue, changes in sleep patterns (decreased or increased sleep), unexpected changes in body weight (unintentional weight gain or loss), suicidal thoughts.
The existence of such manifestations points to depression when the symptoms are not caused by medications or existing mental illnesses and their occurrence isn’t linked with a recent tragic event (death of a loved one). If patients also experience muscular pain, ongoing state of fatigue and joint stiffness, but the symptoms are of psychological nature (they are self-induced, having no concrete medical background), then the existence of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome can be excluded.
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