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The fibromyalgia (FM) syndrome as a manifestation of neuroticism?

  [ 42 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Netter P, Hennig J • • February 5, 1998

After elucidating the components and theory of neuroticism (N)
as well as of psychosomatic complaints and their relationships
to personality dimensions and to psychosomatic diseases,
comparisons are performed between patients suffering from
fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) or related pain diseases with
healthy subjects scoring high on personality dimensions
related to neuroticism. FMS and pain patients score high on
depression, anxiety, and experience of stress although
questionnaire scores on depression are higher in subjects not
exhibiting somatic features of the disease. High subjective
pain sensitivity and low thresholds for pain perception are
also common features in high N subjects and FMS patients. On
the endocrinological level cortisol responses to challenge
tests with CRH as well as prolactin responses to TRH are
higher in FMS patients than in high N healthy subjects
indicating an endocrinological difference. A common feature,
however, is the lack of adapatability in the two groups, since
neurotics are in particular characterized by a low capacity to
shift their behavior from one state to the other
(waking-sleeping, working-relaxing), to re-adapt to baseline
levels after endocrinological or physiological stress
responses, or to adjust to conditions of shift work. This is
reflected by chronobiological disturbances in FMS patients and
could also explain their maintainance of pain perception,
because they are incapable of correcting conditioned
pain-producing muscle tension.

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