There’s nothing worse than having to suffer from physical pain that gets further amplified by emotional stress. More specifically, a study done in 2010 reported that repressing negative emotions like anger increases chronic pain for people who suffer from fibromyalgia. If this is the first time you’ve heard the word “fibromyalgia,” keep reading to find out all about it.
What You Need to Know About Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia syndrome or FMS is a disorder that causes a person to experience musculoskeletal pain throughout their body. It is accompanied by fatigue, mood, and memory issues. You should know that doctors don’t know what causes fibromyalgia and it can be attributed to a variety of factors including genetics, infections, and physical or emotional trauma.
There is also no cure for fibromyalgia but living a lifestyle with exercise, relaxation, and stress-reduction can certainly help in reducing chronic pain issues. As for symptoms, people with fibromyalgia experience widespread pain and tender points all over their body. Check out this article for an extensive list of 43 symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Study Shows That Repressed Anger Heightens Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The European Journal of Pain conducted a 28-day study in 2010 involving 333 older women with fibromyalgia (average age is 47). The study aimed to examine whether anger during the everyday life of someone with fibromyalgia amplified pain and whether repressing anger or expressing anger had a link to the level of pain they experienced.
What researchers found was that trait anger, which a personality characteristic that causes a person to get angry even when slightly provoked, was related to experiencing heightened chronic pain for the person with that disorder.
Take the Story of Vera
To paint you a better picture, we took the example written by Medical Health News of someone named Vera who was angry towards her father for not making her mother happy and at her husband for being insensitive and uncaring. The result of her anger caused her to experience pain that ranged from dull aches to excruciating pain, diagnosed as fibromyalgia.
Unfortunately, Vera struggles in talking about her anger and that causes her fibromyalgia symptoms to intensify. According to the study, the greater the inhibition of anger, the greater the experience of pain in women with fibromyalgia. On the other hand, those who got angry and expressed it in the situation in which it was aroused experienced the least amount of pain.
So, it’s not that Vera was more sensitive to anger compared to other women but she experienced them more often and failed to express them at the moment they occurred. Also, it’s important to note that focusing on positive emotions is an insufficient buffer to repress feelings of anger.
According to a 2010 study published in the Arthritis Care and Research, a situation like Vera’s repressed anger compromised her neuroendocrine functioning, which lowered her pain threshold both physically and psychologically. As a result, her anger worsened the pain she experiences with her fibromyalgia.
The Solution for Minimizing Chronic Pain Intensified by Anger
The conclusion of the study suggests that psychological intervention could focus more on healthy anger expression to try to mitigate symptoms of fibromyalgia. (1) In Vera’s case, she can begin to process her emotions in her support group and through psychotherapy.
If you can relate to Vera’s situation, the fundamental idea is to express feelings of anger more healthily so that your chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia does not get amplified and even better, it could lessen in time. Below are tips for healthy expression of negative emotions like anger.
4 Ways to Healthily Express Your Anger
1. Vent to Someone You Trust
Talk to someone you know whether it’s a friend, a family, or a therapist and let them know about your feelings of anger. It’s not healthy to keep it in as the study suggests so make sure you can find someone you trust and let go of all that pent-up emotion inside of you.
2. Write A Letter
It’s doesn’t have to be sent out or be read by someone else. Simply write a letter detailing all your feelings and how angry you are. Expressing your feelings this way can help release all those negative emotions stirring inside of you. Once you’re finished, and you feel that you’ve let out everything, feel free to throw it in the garbage or get rid of it somehow.
3. Scream into A Pillow
It sounds silly, but it’s a great outlet for letting out your anger. This method can help you express your anger without having to tell someone about it except scream through an inanimate object. You may be surprised just how much better you’ll feel afterward if you decide to follow this advice.
4. Talk to the Person You’re Angry with In a Healthy Way
Sometimes, it helps to tell the person you’re angry with what you’re feeling. You shouldn’t do it to yell at them or fight them, but it may help you to let them know what’s causing you to feel that way. Who knows, they may not have been aware of your emotions and your conversation may provide a solution if it ever happens again.
The takeaway lesson from this entire article is to ensure that you take care of your mental and physical health as best as possible. When you feel angry, don’t repress it. Instead, try one of the suggestions we made in positively dealing with negative emotions. Also, you don’t even have to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia to deal with your anger. As soon as you notice that negative emotions are starting to affect your mental and physical state, take necessary steps to better yourself. If it helps, here’s an article that talks about what you need to do to cure a bad mood.
Here are some more reading materials on dealing with anger or grief: