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Fibromyalgia, Depression, and Myofascial TMD

In a study funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, led by Karen G. Raphael, PhD, investigators worked to understand the reasons for the high rates of psychiatric disorders, especially depression, in women with fibromyalgia.

Research in recent years suggests that women with fibromyalgia have high rates of mood disorders. To better understand the reason for the connection between mood disorders and fibromyalgia, Dr. Raphael's team conducted a community-based study examining the rates of psychiatric disorders in family members of women with and without fibromyalgia. In a closely related study to better understand the role stress plays in fibromyalgia, the researchers interviewed 1,312 women in the New York metropolitan area about symptoms of fibromyalgia both before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Preliminary findings indicate relatively high rates of depression among family members of women with fibromyalgia who themselves had no personal histories of depression. The researchers say this implies that rates of depression are high in women with fibromyalgia because the two conditions share risk factors that are probably related to a common genetic cause.

Other findings indicated that the trauma of the World Trade Center attacks was not associated with the worsening of fibromyalgia symptoms or the development of new fibromyalgia symptoms among women who did not have symptoms earlier. The research team did not find an association between the extent to which participants were exposed to the traumatic events of Sept. 11 and either the worsening of fibromyalgia symptoms or the development of new fibromyalgia symptoms.

The researchers think these findings suggest that fibromyalgia is probably not caused by stress, but instead that there is a link between depression and fibromyalgia that is commonly transmitted within the family, probably genetically.