Music is the Strongest Form of Magic

musicA music therapist will use music to facilitate behavioural changes, by allowing patients to use a variety of musical instruments. Then, the therapist will engage in discussions about the patient’s musical interaction, allowing the patient to express his/her feelings with the aid of musical interaction. The main aim of music therapy is to determine how patients respond emotionally to music, and improve cognitive functioning and quality of life.

How Does This Apply to Fibromyalgia

Researchers examined the effects of music therapy on fibromyalgia, and found that music therapy, combined with relaxation techniques, reduced pain and depression, along with improving sleep for fibromyalgia patients.

music 2If music is able to reduce muscle tension, then possibly the muscle pain experienced in fibromyalgia may decrease. Additionally, if music interventions do decrease the release of stress hormones, then most of the emotional and anxiety symptoms of fibromyalgia may decrease. There is also evidence that music improves mood and stress, and it may also increase one’s immunity.

Sixty FM patients were assigned to either a music group or a control group. The participants of the music group listened to music (duh!) daily for 4 weeks, and were assigned to listen to two types of music. They were also taught relaxation techniques, and the combination of relaxation techniques and music therapy significantly decreased pain intensity and improved quality of life. After 4 weeks, participants of the music intervention group reported a significant decrease in their pain levels, while participants of the control group experienced no change in pain and/or quality of life.

Researchers state that musical interventions decrease cortisol and endorphins, which are markers of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (responsible for release of stress hormones), along with decreasing levels of cortisol, prolactin, ACTH, growth hormone, and norepinephrine levels. Music initiates brain responses that reduce muscle tension, heart rate, and skin conductance.

The researchers greatly recommend the combination of music and relaxation for FM patients. However, the efficacy of this combination depends on the patient’s dedication and willpower to be involved in the treatment.

BUT what if our overly sensitized brains can’t even handle music? (Personally) Give me silence any day…ssshhhh!

from Effects of Music Therapy on Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Awareness – What YOU Can Do and Why

I’m really sick of sitting on the couch, too tired to do anything every day; and then, at 5.16 am (now), being unable to sleep. I need some help. I need somebody to come up with a better way to manage this condition. Better yet, I need someone to cure this condition. Really? You, too?

In fact, I am incensed enough to get back on my high horse and start another Fibromyalgia Awareness Campaign.

What you can do?

fibro 1

Weren’t you complaining about unexplained pain last week? Have a look at http://fibromodem.com/irritable-everything-syndrome-fibro-what/symptoms/

 

Haven't you been feeling like this recently? Have a look at http://fibromodem.com/irritable-everything-syndrome-fibro-what/symptoms/

Haven’t you been feeling like this recently? Have a look at http://fibromodem.com/irritable-everything-syndrome-fibro-what/symptoms/

 

I've been worried about how you're feeling. Please check out http://fibromodem.com/irritable-everything-syndrome-fibro-what/symptoms/

I’ve been worried about how you’re feeling. Please check out http://fibromodem.com/irritable-everything-syndrome-fibro-what/symptoms/

 

I know you've been having trouble sleeping. Have a look at http://fibromodem.com/irritable-everything-syndrome-fibro-what/symptoms/

I know you’ve been having trouble sleeping. Have a look at http://fibromodem.com/irritable-everything-syndrome-fibro-what/symptoms/

 

Got someone you're worried about? Have a look at http://fibromodem.com/irritable-everything-syndrome-fibro-what/symptoms/

Got someone you’re worried about? Have a look at http://fibromodem.com/irritable-everything-syndrome-fibro-what/symptoms/

 

Hey! This would explain why you have been feeling so tired all the time - Have a look at http://fibromodem.com/irritable-everything-syndrome-fibro-what/symptoms/

Hey! This would explain why you’ve been feeling so tired all the time – Have a look at http://fibromodem.com/irritable-everything-syndrome-fibro-what/symptoms/

 

Why we need to increase Fibromyalgia awareness

  1. (Most importantly) Medical researchers and scientists will be more interested in finding a cure! Nobody wants to spend their time looking for a cure for something that no-one has heard of, they all want to cure the illnesses that people know about!
  2. As we all know, it takes some people years and years to find out what is wrong and finally be diagnosed. If everyone knew all about FM, then people could be diagnosed earlier. There would be  less of those depressing years of searching for answers.
  3. Sufferers will feel less alone – they will see posters and information booklets EVERYWHERE, giving them tips on how to cope.
  4. More people will donate money to research to find new treatments and… dare I say it… maybe even a cure!
  5. Doctors will become more interested in our condition and start investigating (and keeping up to date with) the newest medications and treatments, rather than ‘It’s Fibromyalgia – there’s nothing I can do.’
  6. Advertising companies will realise that there are a LOT of us and will design fibro-friendly products such as ride-on vacuum cleaners, ergonomically designed car seats, etc.
  7. We will no longer have to answer questions such as ‘Fibro-my-WHAT?’, ‘Fibromyalgia? What on Earth is that?’ or ‘Is that even real?’ No more long difficult explanations of the never-ending symptoms.
  8. People may even become more understanding! Relatives and friends will understand why you don’t feel up to partying. Employers will understand why you have limitations and will be able to give you suitable arrangements because they will know what they are dealing with.
  9. More support groups will be formed as a result of more people realising that they have fibromyalgia.
  10. Because it makes you feel good about yourself!! You aren’t just doing this for yourself; we are doing this as a TEAM EFFORT! We need to reach as many people as possible to make this a success.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Please, let’s give it a try.

Herbs and Supplements for Fibromyalgia

Managing the symptoms of FM or related ailments is not easy. So, many patients turn to alternative therapies for relief of pain and sleep problems. They may use Chinese herbs or over-the-counter supplements such as 5-HTPmelatonin, and SAM-e.

200px-US-NIH-NCCAM-Logo.svgBecause so many people — not just those with FM — are using alternative therapies, Congress has formed the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). It is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and it helps appraise alternative treatments, including supplements, and define their effectiveness. This organization is now creating safe guidelines to help people choose appropriate alternative therapies that may help their symptoms without making them ill.

Are Herbs and Supplements for FM Safe and Effective?

Some preliminary studies indicate that some medicinal herbs and natural supplements may help treat symptoms of FM. Other studies of herbs and natural supplements, though, are less positive. If you want to take a natural approach to treating FM, it’s important to learn as much as you can about the therapies you consider. The herbs and natural supplements described here are just some of the alternative therapies that may have an impact on FM.

How Does 5-HTP Help FM Pain?

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a building block of serotonin. Serotonin is a powerful brain chemical, and serotonin levels play a significant role in FM pain. Serotonin levels are also associated with depression and sleep.

For those with FM, 5-HTP may help to increase deep sleep and reduce pain. In one study published in the Alternative Medicine Review, researchers reported that supplementation with 5-HTP may improve symptoms of depression, anxietyinsomnia, and FM pains. However, there are some contradictory studies that show no benefit with 5-HTP.

5-HTP is usually well tolerated. But in the late 1980s, the supplement was associated with a serious condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. It’s thought that a contaminant in 5-HTP led to the condition, which causes flu-like symptoms, severe muscle pain, and burning rashes.

141. sleep deprivationCan Melatonin Help Relieve Sleep Problems Associated With FM?

Melatonin is a natural hormone that’s available as an over-the-counter supplement. It is sometimes used to induce drowsiness and improve sleep patterns. Some preliminary findings show that melatonin may be effective in treating FM pain. Most patients with FM have sleep problems and fatigue, and it’s thought that melatonin may help relieve these symptoms.

Melatonin is generally regarded as safe with few to no side effects. Due to the risk of daytime sleepiness, though, anyone taking melatonin should use caution when driving until they know how it affects them.

Is St. John’s Wort a Helpful FM Herb?

There’s no specific evidence that St. John’s wort is helpful in treating FM. However, this herb is often used in treating depression, and depression is commonly associated with FM.

There are several studies that show St. John’s wort is more effective than placebo and as effective as older antidepressants called tricyclics in the short-term treatment of mild or moderate depression. Other studies show St. John’s wort is as effective as selective SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac or Zoloft in treating depression.

St John’s wort is usually well tolerated. The most common side effects are stomach upset, skin reactions, and fatigue. St. John’s wort should not be mixed with antidepressants and can cause interactions with many types of drugs. If you’re on medication, check with your doctor before taking St. John’s wort or any supplement. In addition, be careful about taking St. John’s wort with other drugs, including antidepressants, as it could make you ill.

How Can SAM-e Help FM Pain and Depression?

289. pain in meIt’s not known exactly how SAM-e works in the body. Some feel this natural supplement increases levels of serotonin and dopamine, two brain neurotransmitters. Although some researchers believe that SAM-e may alter mood and increase restful sleep, current studies do not appear to show any benefit of SAM-e over placebo in reducing the number of tender points or in alleviating depression with FM. Additional study is needed to confirm these findings.

Can L-carnitine Help Improve FM Symptoms?

The studies are limited, but it’s thought that L-carnitine may give some pain relief and treat other symptoms in people with FM. In one study, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of L-carnitine in 102 patients with FM. Results showed significantly greater symptom improvements in the group that took L-carnitine than in the group that took a placebo. The researchers concluded that while more studies are warranted, L-carnitine may provide pain relief and improvement in the general and mental health of patients with FM.

What About the Effect of Probiotics on Digestive Problems Associated With FM?

poo-2Probiotics are dietary supplements that contain potentially beneficial bacteria or yeasts. They may assist with the breakdown and proper absorption of food and help improve digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome — a common symptom of FM. Some of the ways probiotics are used include:

  • treating diarrhea
  • preventing and treating infections of the urinary tract or female genital tract
  • treating irritable bowel syndrome

Side effects of taking probiotics are usually mild and include gas or bloating.

There are other herbs and natural supplements that people say have helped manage FM symptoms. They include echinacea, black cohosh, cayenne, lavender, milk thistle, and B vitamins. Nevertheless, there are no definitive studies on the efficacy of these natural therapies.

Fuzzy shot of pharmacy supplements shelf.How Can I Know Which Herb or Natural Supplement Will Help my FM?

***Before taking any herb or supplement for FM, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about possible side effects or herb/drug interactions. Herbal therapies are not recommended for pregnant women, children, the elderly, or those with weakened immune systems. In addition, some herbs have sedative or blood-thinning qualities, which may dangerously interact with anti-inflammatory painkillers or other pain medications. Others may cause stomach upset if taken in large doses.

If you’d like to see iHerb’s selection of supplements, click here. Use Coupon Code LHJ194 to get $10 off any first time order over $40 or $5 off any first time order under $40.

Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

The wait is over! The results for the Depict Depression fundraiser Art Competition are out!

Congratulations to all winners – thank you for giving of your time, effort and money (donations) to a worthy cause.

As you already know Alisha from The Invisible F organised this competition to raise funds for Depression Alliance, a leading national charity which provides information, support and services for those affected by depression.

DA has been key in her own fight against depression and she wanted to give something back, as well as help raise awareness. There’s still a lot of stigma, misconceptions and negative attitudes towards people who suffer from depression. And while some people are understanding and supportive, many others aren’t and can’t seem to break their line of thinking unless they themselves have been affected.

This competition was intended to provide a forum for ‘discourse’ & expression. Talking about things isn’t only useful for raising awareness, it is part of the healing process and the way forward.

THE WINNING SUBMISSIONS

1st PLACE

The winning piece is a photograph orchestrated by Georgina Henshaw.

She captioned it “Friends of depression, not friends with me.”

Senior judge Lynda rightly described it as a “powerful” photograph, and in it we see some of the destructive things and habits that are often adopted by people who get depressed.

Georgina Henshaw

 2nd PLACE went to Llinos Thomas who penned a metaphorical masterpiece of the black dog.

She said: “In this poem I have used weather as a metaphor for how depression makes me feel.  I have tried to depict the loneliness, bleakness and intense symptoms of the illness.”

The wind whistling through my mind.
Thunder cracking in my ears.
Lightning piercing my eyes.
Is it my destiny to go through this
Alone?
Snow clogging up my brain.
Rain lashing on my face.
Hail scraping my ears.
How will I find the strength to
Overcome?
Sleet creeping down my neck.
Drizzle misting up my eyes.
Fog steaming up my mind.
Looking for a way out of the
Hell inside my head.

3rd PLACE was won by Margaret Whittaker who produced a well written creative passage illustrating a dark, but very real aspect of depression that faces many a sufferer.

Looking down she wondered if this was the best way. It was an awfully long drop. What would her feelings be on the way down? Once her decision was made there was no going back. The black mist crept closer. The stone in her stomach grew heavier. Her head was bursting. Her chest tightened and she could hardly breathe. No one would know. The streets were silent, malevolent and the creature in the blackness was of her own making. It was a devourer of souls, a destroyer of all that made life worth living. It was an emptiness into which she fell at last. It was not a spiritual place. When it was accomplished she was not present to witness it. A dog passed by and sniffed at the broken remains of a human being at the foot of the bridge.

4th PLACE went to Caroline, who whipped up this beautiful blast of colours is descriptive, insightful and offers hope. Caroline explained:

This piece represents a person in the thick of the depression bubble, where you can hardly see out and you definitely can’t feel anything.

All the natural beautiful things are visible but completly unreachable and untouchable, yet they are still there.

Other people can touch and see the beautiful natural things that are always all around us, but they can’t touch or see your thick misty bubble.

You are by yourself and all alone, no one can hear you shout and cry. Yet eventually, with help – you can learn how to break free.

4th PLACE WINNER Caroline B.

 

Prizes:

1st PLACE – Large Estee Lauder gift set
2nd PLACE – Small Estee Lauder gift set & book voucher
3rd PLACE – Vicky Scott artwork & book voucher
4th PLACE – Summer gift set & book voucher

If you have symptoms of depression, anxiety, or any of the other mood disorders mentioned, be sure to talk with your doctor about it. Left untreated, these symptoms can actually exacerbate many of your other symptoms (e.g., Anxiety causes stress; stress contributes to pain, insomnia, increased fatigue, digestive problems, etc.) and seriously interfere with your quality of life.

 

Related Articles

Don’t Mind(fulness) Me!

249. stressing out (1)Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a program that helps you learn to calm your mind and body to help you cope, not only with illness and/or pain, but also with stress in your everyday life.

MBSR teaches “mindfulness,” a focus only on things happening in the present moment. For example, you may sit quietly and think only about how your body feels. You might focus only on the sounds around you or how your food tastes and smells. When you are mindful, you do just one thing and you pay close attention to that one thing (basically, the opposite of multi-tasking).

To help you focus your mind on the present:

1. STOP

Stop everything! EVERYTHING! PAUSE…BREATHE! Allow everything to be exactly as it is, Release all resistance and attachment

chronic comic 164Imagine yourself hanging on to whatever you’re holding on to, with your hands, for dear life, with a big black hole beneath you. Now, LET GO and allow yourself to fall, fall down the black hole, keep falling, until you land on a beautiful, soft platform of golden light. The Universe, God, or whatever you might believe in holds you, loves you and supports you. ALLOW IT!

2. FEEL

Breathe…feel your body.

Breathe some more.

Breathe all the way down to your feet. Feel your feet touching the floor, wiggle your toes, push your big toes into the floor. Breathe deeply, sigh or groan as you breathe out. Try this at least 10 times.

What are you actually feeling?

Feel it! Express it! if you need to cry or scream, do it – it will leave you SO much lighter.

3. RELAX

chronic comic 163Not necessarily meditation or a formal way of relaxation – I mean do something you LOVE and can fully engage with, which will switch off your mind chatter (it can still be meditation if that is what you love).

4. OPEN

Open up to new possibilities.

73. miserableAsk questions without having specific answers in mind already, and without wanting them answered immediately. Simply ask and then forget about it. Allow space after the question, to free yourself from intellectualising it, and rather to be free to receive the answers when they come.

Questions like:

    • What else is possible?
    • What would the energy of my life be like, if I was living it for the joy of it?
    • How could this situation be even better?

Studies show that MBSR can reduce stress and help people relax. MBSR helped some people cope better with symptoms and improved their quality of life. Research also shows that MBSR helped people sleep better and feel less anxious, and it helped ease depression symptoms.

The Pursuit of Happyness

Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, or money. (We would still have FM if we were rich!) Rather, it comes from within. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.

The question is: how do they do that?

It’s quite simple. Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do things differently. Ask any happy person, and they will tell you that they …

1. Don’t hold grudges.

Easier said than done, right? Happy people understand that it’s better to forgive and forget than to let their negative feelings crowd out their positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on your wellbeing, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress – something we definitely do not need more of! Why let anyone who has wronged you have power over you? If you let go of all your grudges, you’ll gain a clear conscience and enough energy to enjoy the good things in life.

2. Treat everyone with kindness.

Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that most of us seem to need more of. Not only that, but treating people with love, dignity, and respect also allows you to build stronger relationships.

3. See problems as challenges.

The word “problem” is never part of a happy person’s vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge. Yes, we have a lot of challenges in our lives – but together we can meet them.

4. Express gratitude for what they already have.

There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.” You will have a deeper sense of contentment if you count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don’t have.

5. Dream big.

People who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don’t. If you dare to dream big, your mind will put itself in a focused and positive state.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Happy people ask themselves, “Will this problem matter a year from now?” They understand that life’s too short to get worked up over trivial situations. Letting things roll off your back will definitely put you at ease to enjoy the more important things in life.

7. Speak well of others.

Being nice feels better than being mean. Saying nice things about other people encourages you to think positive, non-judgmental thoughts.

8. Never make excuses.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Happy people don’t make excuses or blame others for their own failures in life. Instead, they own up to their mistakes and, by doing so, they learn and proactively try to change for the better.

9. Get absorbed into the present.

Happy people don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. They savour the present. They let themselves get immersed in whatever they’re doing at the moment. Stop and smell the (purple) roses.

10. Avoid social comparison.

Everyone works at his own pace, so why compare yourself to others? My father used to quote Desiderata* to me: If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter…If you think you’re better than someone else, you gain an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you think someone else is better than you, you end up feeling bad about yourself. You’ll be happier if you focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs.

11. Choose friends wisely.

Misery loves company. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with optimistic people who will encourage you to achieve your goals. The more positive energy you have around you, the better you will feel about yourself.

12. Never seek approval from others.

Happy people don’t care what others think of them. They follow their own hearts without letting naysayers discourage them. They understand that it is impossible to please everyone. Listen to what people have to say, but never seek anyone’s approval but your own.

13. Take the time to listen.

Talk less; listen more. Listening keeps your mind open to others’ wisdoms and outlooks on the world. The more intensely you listen, the quieter your mind gets, and the more content you feel.

14. Nurture social relationships.

A lonely person is a miserable person. Happy people understand how important it is to have strong, healthy relationships. Yes, it can be harder for us than others; but, try to take the time to see and talk to your family, friends, or significant other.

15. Meditate.

Meditating silences your mind and helps you find inner peace. You don’t have to be a zen master to pull it off. Happy people know how to silence their minds anywhere and anytime they need to calm their nerves.

16. Eat well.

Junk food makes you sluggish, and it’s difficult to be happy when you’re in that kind of state. Everything you eat directly affects your body’s ability to produce hormones, which will dictate your moods, energy, and mental focus. Be sure to eat foods that will keep your mind and body in good shape.

17. Exercise.

Studies have shown that exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft does. So just think how good you will feel if you’re taking your anti-depressants AND exercising! Exercising also boosts your self-esteem and gives you a higher sense of self-accomplishment.

18. Tell the truth.

Lying stresses you out, corrodes your self-esteem, and makes you unlikeable. The truth will set you free. Being honest improves your mental health and builds others’ trust in you. Always be truthful, and never apologize for it.

19. Establish personal control.

Happy people have the ability to choose their own destinies. They don’t let others tell them how they should live their lives. Being in complete control of one’s own life brings positive feelings and a great sense of self-worth. Be your own advocate. Figure out what really works for YOU. Learn how to manage YOUR own FM. There are on-line tools (such as FibroTrack) that can help you work out a structured plan and let you regain control!

20. Accept what cannot be changed.

Once you accept the fact that life is not fair, you’ll be more at peace with yourself. Instead of obsessing over how unfair life is, just focus on what you can control and change it for the better.

 

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

When Does it Stop Being Hocus Pocus?

The prevalence of co-morbid psychological symptoms in individuals with FM has led many health practitioners to look for guidance on the use of psycho-therapeutic treatment options.  Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been known to have benefit but it can be time intensive and costly, prohibiting its use in many individuals.

In addition to this more traditional therapy (remember when this was considered hocus-pocus!), current research suggests that hypnosis and guided imagery may have a role in treating FM.  This interesting treatment option was discussed in a recent review of the literature investigating the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic treatments in FM.

The review focused on two randomized controlled trials evaluating the use of hypnotherapy and three studies evaluating the use of guided imagery.  These five randomized controlled trials, the gold standard experimental design in clinical research, found consistent positive results in the treated patients as compared to the control patients.

Hypnotherapy

In one study, 40 patients were treated with eight hypnotherapy sessions over the course of 3 months.  These hypnosis sessions focused on sensory and affective (emotion-based) approaches to FM pain control.  The results show that pain intensity was reduced, there was less fatigue on awakening, and the participants sleep patterns were improved.

A second study evaluated the effect of up to five hypnosis sessions on 53 patients.  This study also found that hypnotherapy improved sleep quality and resulted in less morning stiffness.

For many, hypnosis brings to mind a parlour game or nightclub act, where a man with a swinging watch gets volunteers to walk like a chicken or bark like a dog. But clinical or medical hypnosis is more than fun and games. It is an altered state of awareness used by licensed therapists to treat psychological or physical problems.

During hypnosis, the conscious part of the brain is temporarily tuned out as the person focuses on relaxation and lets go of distracting thoughts. The American Society of Clinical Hypnotists likens hypnosis to using a magnifying glass to focus the rays of the sun and make them more powerful. When our minds are concentrated and focused, we are able to use them more powerfully. When hypnotized, a person may experience physiologic changes, such as a slowing of the pulse and respiration, and an increase in alpha brain waves. The person may also become more open to specific suggestions and goals (such as reducing pain!) In the post-suggestion phase, the therapist reinforces continued use of the new behaviour.

Benefits of Hypnosis

Research has shown medical hypnosis to be helpful for acute and chronic pain. In 1996, a panel of the National Institutes of Health found hypnosis to be effective in easing cancer pain. More recent studies have demonstrated its effectiveness for pain related to other conditions. An analysis of 18 studies by researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York revealed moderate to large pain-relieving effects from hypnosis, supporting the effectiveness of hypnotic techniques for pain management.

If you want to try hypnosis, you can expect to see a practitioner by yourself for a course of 1-hour or half-hour treatments, although some practitioners may start with a longer initial consultation and follow-up with 10- to 15-minute appointments. Your therapist can give you a post-hypnotic suggestion that will enable you to induce self-hypnosis after the treatment course is completed.

To find a hypnotherapist, speak to your doctor.

More reading on Hypnosis:

Find a licensed Hypnotherapist:

Guided Imagery

The three studies which evaluated the effectiveness of guided imagery found that pain was reduced in intensity and anxiety was lessened.  In particular, one study compared guided imagery that used pleasant imagery with guided imagery focused upon the “active workings of the internal pain control systems”.  The pleasant guided imagery was significantly more effective in reducing FM pain.

This technique uses visual imagery and body awareness to achieve relaxation. The person imagines being in a peaceful place and then focuses on different physical sensations, such as heaviness of the limbs or a calm heartbeat. People may practice on their own, creating their own images, or be guided by a therapist. Patients may also be encouraged to see themselves coping more effectively with stressors in their lives.

We have very few effective treatment options.  Fortunately, research is beginning to discover the effectiveness of certain psychotherapeutic treatment options.  Hypnosis and guided imagery may be one effective option to improve the mental, emotional, and physical symptoms of FM.

Spiritual Stability?

spiritualityPeople who are spiritual are more likely than atheists or the religious to be mentally unwell, according to a new study by University College in London.

They are also more likely to have used or abused drugs, to experience anxiety, neurosis or phobias and have ‘abnormal eating attitudes.’

Nearly 7,500 randomly selected men and women (average age of 46) were interviewed. They were asked about their spiritual or religious beliefs and their psychological state.

Of the participants, 35 per cent had a religious understanding of life, 19 per cent were spiritual but not religious and 46 per cent were neither religious nor spiritual.

Religious people and atheists were on par in regards to prevalence of mental disorders, but the religious were less likely to have ever used drugs or be a heavy drinker.

1300434290_164926594_1-Pictures-of--Spiritual-WorkshopsHowever, the spiritual people  were 50 per cent more likely to have an anxiety disorder, 72 per cent more likely to suffer from a phobia and 77 per cent more likely to have a drug dependency.

But, it is not all bad news for believers: other studies that have found performing religious or spiritual practices provides physical and psychological benefits and helps people to integrate intellectually and emotionally.

“Transcendent spiritual and religious experiences have a positive, healing, restorative effect, especially if they are ‘built in,’ so to speak, to one’s daily, weekly, seasonal, and annual cycles of living,” said Ellen Idler, acting  dean  of  Social  and  Behavioural  Sciences  at  Rutgers  University, in a paper titled The Psychological and Physical Benefits of Spiritual/Religious Practices.

20786675As for the latest study, published in British Journal of Psychiatry, the researchers concluded that: “People who have a spiritual understanding of life in the absence of a religious framework are vulnerable to mental disorder.

“The nature of this association needs greater examination in qualitative and in prospective quantitative research.”

 

Fibro CONTROVERSY

There is much debate about both the usefulness and safety of opioids as a medication for FM sufferers. Many health care professionals and researchers feel that there is little evidence that opioids actually provide significant pain relief for those suffering with FM. Others are concerned about the potential for tolerance and addiction associated with long-term opioid use. Yet, many of us find that opioids are highly effective pain relievers, and work to relieve persistent symptoms of widespread pain and muscle stiffness.

What are Opioids?
field-of-poppiesOpioids are a class of drug used to relieve symptoms of severe pain. More commonly known as narcotics, opioids are named after opium, a product found inside of the opium poppy plant. Natural opium has been used for hundreds of years to treat symptoms of severe pain and illness. Some opioids are made from this natural opium, while others are made synthetically from different chemicals.

Most of us associate opioids with the treatment of acute pain, like when you get your wisdom teeth pulled at your dentist’s office. However, opioids can also be used on a regular basis to treat chronic pain. Some types of opioids used to treat FM include:

  • oxycodone
  • morphine
  • fentanyl

Do Opioids Help to Relieve Fibromyalgia Pain?
opioidsThe efficacy of opioids in FM pain relief is one of the key components to the controversy surrounding opioid use. Though patients claim that opioids provide them with significant symptom relief, some health care providers disagree. There is some research that shows that opioids are indeed helpful for relieving FM pain. A recent study performed on long-acting opioids, including oxycodone, showed that FM sufferers gained great relief from long-term use of opioids. Users reported a 38% average reduction in pain symptoms and also experienced:

  • fewer sleep disturbances
  • less anxiety and depression
  • increased mobility and enjoyment of life

However, another study published discourages long-term use of opioids for treating FM pain. In a review of charts at a multidisciplinary FM clinic, researchers found that 32% of patients were taking opioids (i.e., Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin,) with more than 2/3 of them on strong ones.

Researchers identified several characteristics that made people more likely to be on long-term opioids: lower education, unemployment, being on disability, current unstable psychiatric disorder, history of substance abuse and prior suicide attempts. They also say they “observed negative health and psychosocial status in patients using opioids.”

The paper supports the current medical opinion discouraging opioid use in fibromyalgia and concludes that prolonged use requires evaluation.

It is very common to hear doctors say that these drugs are ineffective in FM, but so far there is very little (and differing) research to go on. The patient community is divided, with some saying they don’t work and others saying they’re the only drugs that do anything. Response to opioids is variable.

Then the issues of abuse and addiction further complicate the matter, especially with doctors afraid of serious legal consequences for what may be considered improper prescribing.

Do Opioids Cause Addiction?
Despite their effectiveness, many patients and health care providers are concerned about the possibilities that opioids may cause tolerance, addiction and physical dependence in patients. Three major medical societies, the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM), the American Pain Society (APS), and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) have issued a joint consensus paper which clearly defines the frequently misunderstood terms addiction, tolerance,and physical dependence, and discusses their definitions in the context of opioid use in the treatment of pain.

“The addiction community was concerned because of inaccurate diagnosis. The pain community was concerned about over-diagnosis of addiction when it didn’t exist, and how this misdiagnosis interfered with treatment with opioids,”  said Edward Covington, MD, Director of the Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program at the Cleveland Clinic and past president of AAPM, who was one of the paper’s authors. “Also we needed agreement about what is and what is not an addictive disorder.”

Tolerance: Tolerance is actually a typical response to any type of medical intervention. After about two weeks on a medication your body becomes “used to it,” and side effects caused by the medication begin to disappear. Opioid tolerance typically manifests as the disappearance of nausea and other side effects. However, some patients do notice that they begin to develop a tolerance to the pain relief provided by opioids. This does not always indicate that your body is becoming addicted to the medication. Other factors, such as muscle injury and central nervous system activity must also be taken into consideration. Also, tolerance is not the same thing as addiction –  it simply means that you may require a slight increase in the dosage of the opioid you are taking in order to gain the maximum benefits.

Physical dependence and tolerance are often confused with addiction.

Addiction: Addiction is a more worrying side effect of opioid usage. Dr. Covington noted that addiction is a primary, chronic, neurobiological disease that can be identified by the three “Cs” Craving or Compulsive use, loss of Control, and use despite adverse Consequences. Other behaviors that signal addiction include “drug seeking” behavior, taking multiple doses of medications, and an inability to take them on schedule, “doctor shopping,” frequent reports of lost or stolen prescriptions, isolation from friends and family members, and taking pain medications for sedation, increased energy, or to get “high.”  This can result in a multitude of side effects, both physical and psychological.

However, less than 0.5% of chronic pain patients develop a real opioid addiction. In an evidence-based review for Pain Treatment Topics, editor Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, summarised the findings of major research investigations of 24 clinical studies: the overall rate of prescribed opioid analgesic abuse or addiction in patients with pain was about 3.3%. However, fewer than 2 out of 1,000 (0.19%) patients without a current or past substance-use disorder experienced problems with opioids prescribed for pain.

According to the consensus paper definitions, physical dependence and tolerance are both normal responses to regular use of some prescribed medications, including opioids, and are not in themselves evidence of an addictive disorder.

“Unlike tolerance and physical dependence, addiction is not a predictable effect of [taking] a drug but an adverse reaction in biologically and psycho-socially vulnerable individuals.

“It is also important for healthcare professionals to recognise the difference between true addiction and “pseudo-addiction,” notes Albert Ray, MD, President of AAPM.

neck-pain-made-worse-by-pain-medicationsWith pseudo-addiction, patients whose pain is under-treated appear to behave “like addicts” to get the pain relief they need. They may focus on getting more medication, for example, and appear to be engaging in drug-seeking behavior. But unlike a person with a true addictive disorder, however, once their pain is properly managed, these behaviors stop immediately.”

Withdrawal: Opioid use has also been debated because of the withdrawal symptoms that they often cause. Even patients that are not addicted to an opioid will likely experience disturbing withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug. To avoid serious withdrawal symptoms, opioid use should always be tapered off gradually. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:

  • yawning
  • diarrhea
  • goosebumps
  • runny nose
  • drug cravings
  • anxiety
  • insomnia

Most withdrawal symptoms should disappear within a week. However, symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and craving may persist for a longer period of time.

This topic is worthy of further investigation and debate; however, the preponderance of available evidence suggests that establishing
medical policies or practices in pain management on a presumption of high rates of prescribed opioid-analgesic abuse or addiction could be misguided, resulting in added costs for healthcare delivery and the under-treatment of pain.

Healthcare providers should be reasonably assured that only a very small percentage of their patients with chronic pain, if any, will exhibit abuse/addiction when receiving long-term opioid analgesics. And, this would be especially so in those patients who have not experienced substance-misuse problems in the past.

 

You’ve Got Mail (Fibro Reminder)

Wake up

Receive wonderful text message from colleague (who read Scary With You is Better Than Scary Without You) full of support

Gotta email him

Check personal Facebook page

Check Fibromyalgia Awareness Day Facebook page

Answer questions and comments

Gotta email him

Check Twitter

Upload all competition entries to Pinterest

Read 56 e-mails

Answer emails

Gotta email him

Finally received email from Photoscramble

Spend 1.5 hours making and cropping screen shots, and trying to make the competition’s problems understood, then follow the short instructions passed to me

Clear browser cache (as instructed) – didn’t help anything except now I can’t get into the FibroModem Fibro Forum (so don’t be looking for me, there)

Fill shop order and walk to post office

Still haven’t emailed my colleague – getting very anxious → too much to do

Return, exhausted, to filthy house → too much stuff EVERYWHERE – really losing it now

32 more emails received while I was out?

Tidy kitchen

Make two comments on Forumotion Forum so I can have permission to ask how to get back into the Forum

Put on load of washing

Gotta email him

Tidy (sort of) bedroom → can’t calm myself down

Close door to spare room – way too much to do in there → can’t even look at it!

Prepared new page for blog to promote competition entries

Feeling extremely stressed out – really no reason to be stressed, I have nothing planned tomorrow at all. I can do all of this tomorrow. Too much in my head! MUST be the competition → really, really hope it all works! Too much!

Emailed colleague! (Not sure how, as I seem unable to put a full sentence together)