Why Is Fibromyalgia Mistaken As Hypochondria?

fibromyalgia and hypochondria

For a long time now, some medical experts consider fibromyalgia as a psychosomatic condition. As such fibromyalgia is often mistaken as hypochondria. However, recent studies have proven that the symptoms of fibromyalgia are real. They are as real as the case of some other medical illnesses out there.




Why Are Fibromyalgia Patients Mistaken As Hypochondriacs?

What made many think that people who have fibromyalgia are hypochondriacs is because most of the fibro symptoms are apparently unrelated to each other or to a certain common cause.

Fibromyalgia patients often show signs that are classified as symptoms of a totally different disease. Anxiety, depression, irritable bowel disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, insomnia, lupus and restless leg syndrome are just some of the most common fibromyalgia symptoms.

In order to further understand why hypochondria and fibromyalgia are often mistaken with each other, you must first know what each of these conditions is and what makes them different and similar at the same time.

Fibromyalgia vs Hypochondria

To start with, fibromyalgia is a syndrome that is often caused by a biological condition. This is where a large majority of the medical professionals tend to agree. However, the actual cause of the chronic pain syndrome is still unknown. As of the moment, specialists and experts have trouble meeting consensus to any of the proposed theories.




Hypochondria, on the other hand, is a type of condition that is classified as psychosomatic disorder. This means that it is a kind of mental disorder that has repercussions on the physical state of a patient. Most often, this disorder is due to stress and a powerful emotional moment. Hypochondria may also be a consequence of widespread of information related to different illnesses which are easily obtainable from the internet. In many cases, people that are very anxious of their health can become very paranoid after reading articles on certain illnesses. As a result, these people start to think that their bodies are showing symptoms of the disease. Hypochondriacs are usually not satisfied when a doctor tells them that their bodies are healthy. They usually start visiting different clinics in search of a doctor whom will agree with them.

Neurochemical Elements Linking Fibromyalgia and Hypochondria

The most frequent assumption of the link between fibromyalgia and hypochondria has to do with the neurochemical elements found in the brain, including their levels and how these could affect one’s perception of pain. Another recent theory has claimed that high amounts of blood vessels in one’s hand can affect pain.

What Makes the Two Conditions Similar?

The reason why medical professionals mistake fibromyalgia for hypochondria is partly because the two conditions are similar in many ways:

  • The main similarity is that patients suffering from each of the two conditions show a large number of random symptoms.
  • The fact that there has not been an actual biological case in these two conditions also makes them very similar to each other.
  • Both conditions do not have a cure. Furthermore, the treatments of both conditions mainly focus on treating the symptoms.
  • Both conditions are difficult to diagnose. It usually takes several consultations, and clinic hoping, before a proper diagnosis. The fact that there is no tests, scans or other medical technologies that can validate fibromyalgia makes the condition even more similar to hypochondria.

What Makes the Two Conditions Different?

So what makes the two conditions different from each other? In a nutshell, the main difference is that fibromyalgia symptoms are real whereas the symptoms of hypochondriacs are often induced mentally. Having said that, the two conditions therefore differ in diagnosis and treatment.

5 Comments

  • Good article, I had past experiences with that problem. I was treated like a manic crazy person,just because,suffering this horrible pain from head to toe,Sometimes,I couldn’t explain all of this with words… To see the doctors faces ,their eyes looking at you with squeptizism of what you are explaining to them…. to me it was the most horrible feeling of frustration,loneliness,fear, and more pain. For a while, I stopped visiting doctors although my condition is very real,it’s not created by my imagination. Feeling crazy like they made me feel,I went to visit a psychiatrist,where I found out the relationship between chronic pain and depression.

  • As I look back on my life and how and when the Fibromyalgia began, yes I had a traumatic Childhood in some respects. I believe in 2003-2004 I went through a terrible trauma with my Son of 2 yrs. My X-Husband kicked my wonderful Mom, our beautiful Son and me by telling us to “get the fuck out of my house!” It was his Mother’s house, and she is 87 years old that was the first of 3 tragic happenings within a 9 month period starting June 2003, stupidly I was missing that jerk but we were married then separated. Never gave anything for help and support. My son was having terrible Asthma and ended up having to go to ER mostly at night. My Mama tragically passed away April 29th 2004 from a stroke and I took her in for a virus and my Mom had other issues and my Brother was terrible, absolutely no support from him I became the sole person to take care of her Funeral, pick her Casket while I had to care for my 3 year old. She was only 72. I had hurt my back in an accident at work and started having Facet Syndrome on my lower left side which was in 2007-8. had 2 car accidents with whiplash and I was then Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and it has gotten so much worse eith Osteo Arthritis Surguries..etc . Emotional trauma and physical trauma both.

    • Carol, I’m sorry you went through so much. I agree, physical and emotional trauma are what I believe triggered my fibromyalgia. I sustained an overuse injury at work (what they used to call RSI) I had damage to my neck, my shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands and upper spinal pain. I also developed TMJ due to the stress and pain. Along with the pain and injury, I also had to fight to have my employers and the worker’s compensation insurers believe that I had a real injury. Fortunately some of the injuries showed on x-rays and CT scans – but they also believed that most of my pain was psychosomatic. I developed severe depression. In the midst of all the issues from the injury, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia – I believe it was the trauma that precipitated it. I wish there was more research done into the disease and that they could do studies that would query the percentage of sufferers who have had a physical or emotional trauma around the time of being diagnosed. Gentle hugs to you and I hope you’re having a good day.

  • A manic crazy person, Maria?! You mean eg a “human-being” with “bipolar”? Why is it that so many people insist on trying to provoke someone having (an) invisible illness(es) making derogatory comments & gaslighting? esp eg given because of big pharma one has to cope with taking a combo of meds & then eg between prescribed Rx & OTC they then have to find a way to survive the “numerous” cascade of side-effects that then can lead to even more Rx of side-effect Rx! So, “duh” if pts then try alternate approaches eg naturopathic.

  • I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia some 40 years ago. At that time, few had ever heard of it – including me. The doctor told me to exercise and that was the only help I received for a decade. Meanwhile, the symptoms worsened. Then, suddenly, everyone was getting diagnosed with it! But, I knew my problems were worse than theirs. However, more research was done and it became more acceptable to connect more of the symptoms together. Finally, twenty years after I was diagnosed, I finally got medications that help! And, I received pain medication as well. Now, I feel as though I don’t have to be ashamed of it or commit suicide to stop the unrelenting pain.

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