PTSD is a significant factor for me in CFIDS...

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by DorothyVivian, Oct 4, 2006.

  1. DorothyVivian

    DorothyVivian New Member

    I've had a lot of muscle pain most of my life which I explained away as being due to overexercise, etc. However, when I began experiencing frequent episodes of crushing fatigue lasting for days and many times, stretching into months---and which often began with flu-like symptoms, sore throat, lymph gland enlargement under my jaw and under arms---my primary doctor diagnosed me with Chronic Epstein Barr Syndrome, or CEBV. Then, the name of the dx was changed to Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome--better known as CFIDS.

    Now, as I approach my 73rd b-day, I look back over the last three decades and see a significant correlation for the most severe episodes of CFIDS with the times during and after harsh periods of stress--in both my personal and professional life. (I've worked as a marriage, family counselor as well as more recently, as a rehabilitation counselor. During my professional life, I worked in a psychiatric hospital and then, later, as a rehabilitation counselor in a treatment center for persons with chemical addictions.) These were highly burdensome and difficult years filled with fear and tension, and far too much excitement!

    Also, during the early 1980s, I cared for my terminally ill mother. And I was briefly on and off in an abusive relationship. (It was difficult to end as contact with him as he almost stalked me--turning up places he knew I would be. His manner towards me was subtly threatening. He stopped pestering me only when he was able to engage another woman.

    In addition, in private consultation with the local D.A.'s 'Victim Support Unit',I've worked with numerous women (and a few men) who had been mistreated mildly to severely during in their marriage and family relationships. So, I had traumatic stress in both my private and professional life).

    I partially retired ten years ago and yet, maintained a small private practice; and five years ago, I completely retired. Now I look back and say to myself, "What WAS I thinking of??!!"

    I guess a person only fully realizes the extent of the stress she or he is tolerating until it is removed! If the tension and stress builds gradually, a person becomes tolerant of a load they wouldn't allow if it happened all at once--lol!

    Several years ago, as I discussed these aspects of my condition with a former supervisor, she said she believed we all were experiencing two levels of traumatic stress: our own, and the stress we absorbed from our clients. She called this latter stress "Secondary Post Traumatic Stress". I believe she was perceptive and accurate in describing my experiences and condition.

    Let me be clear, though. I'm NOT saying PTSD CAUSED my CFIDS and Fibromyalgia--but I do believe stress is a major factor for the level of pain, tension and impairment I have now and have had for the last 30 years. And, I'm not saying I believe CFIDS and Fibromyalgia are primarily psychosomatic. I believe that these illnesses are biologically, neurologically based diseases worsened or improved, to some extent, by the increase or reduction of traumatic stress.

    I'd like to hear what others here think about the involvement of traumatic stress in their condition. Please let me hear what you think as you consider the involvement of traumatic stress in the process of your illness. Thank you in advance!

    With love, Dorothy
  2. Sandyz

    Sandyz New Member

    I have wondered about this too. I have had numerous traumatic things happen to me in my life. I had an alcoholic father and a sister who had mental problems and was attacking me all the time. It was a difficult childhood to say the least.

    In my adult life it seems like everytime I have some trauma, my FM and CFS get worse. I can`t wait till the day when we finally get the answers to what causes all this.

    Best wishes,
  3. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Many have had their illnesses manifest during periods of stress. Stress is known to reduce our immune systems' ability to fight off infection. There are many triggers for our illnesses. Stress, by itself or in conjunction with another trigger, can bring on our illnesses and cause flares. Stress may be emotional but the effects of stress are physical.

    I've probably had FMS/CFIDS all my life. I say it was a mycoplasma infection which triggered my illnesses full blown; however, the infection occured as I was going through a very stressful (is that redundant?) divorce. When I am stressed to that level, I lose the ability to feel emotions. My therapist says this is my PTSD reaction. It protects me from unbearable stress.

    Love, Mikie
  4. I had 2 events that lead up to fybro an accident 5 years ago and a fall 1 1/2 years ago.I got sick about a year ago to this day.

    That event was my 23 year old son getting pulled over and failed a sobriety test, He was on probation and had 1 month left,of a 5 year probation.The whole 5 years he did good, and then he got to a party and got drunk, and didn't realize how much he had.

    Well he was just a block from or home, so the police let him call me and park his car. His test was just barely over the limit. I have not been the same since!!!

    Thank Godhe wasn't acting drunk or he would have been hauled in and maybe break his probation.

    I know this is hard to hear with so many people drinking and driving, I am not saying he was right because NO ONE SHOULD drink and drive!!But if its your child you just hope for the best.

  5. NancyMystic

    NancyMystic New Member

    I agree, Dorothy. I feel certain that there's a connection between my PTSD and getting CFIDS.

    I know that traumatic abuse physically damages the brain - especially in children whose brains are still developing.


    By the way, DorothyVivian - I've been meaning for some time to mention that I really enjoy your posts, which are always so well-written & thoughtful.
  6. MsE

    MsE New Member

    I agree that an extremely stressful life leaves us susceptible to CFIDS. I also have PTSD in my background.
  7. DorothyVivian

    DorothyVivian New Member

    Everyone--I so appreciate all the thoughtful responses! You've help me feel better. I've had quite a few persons suggest that I'm too sensitive and even suggest that I'm pretending to be sick. (I've learned to distance myself from those persons who doubt my honesty as it is futile and a huge waste of precious energy to try to educate anyone who doubts me!)

    Thinking further about PTSD as a major aspect of CFIDS, I've made a few more helpful distinctions about stress--at least in my experience. In my experience, not all stress is harmful. The effort of taking a longer walk than usual is seldom triggering for me--unless I'm being rushed by someone else who is impatient and who pressures me to hurry. And the efforts of working on a painting is tiring sometimes, but this seldom worsens my condition.

    What really bothers me is if a family member or someone I've considered a friend begins to "should" on me--and hint that I'm disappointing them. Or if I feel that I'm being shamed for being ill. (Sometimes I feel as though my sons are ashamed of me for being ill and although I know I don't have to 'buy into' their opinions, their disappointment is painful for me.)

    To hear that you are having similar experiences reassures me. I'm sorry you are going through this too..but thanks for your honesty!

    I appreciate you all more than I can say!

    With love, Dorothy
  8. lenasvn

    lenasvn New Member

    I've done some research about PTSD and CFS connection. I was arguing about this with a Rheumy only to find that he prooved himself right when I found that PTSD have many of the symptoms of CFS, and PTSD often develop into clear CFS and/or FM and co-excist. My Internist also said he was well aware of this connection (thanks ALOT for not telling me! LOL!)

    Do a google on PTSD, CFS, FM, there is alot of reseach about this. I added a short piece below- the whole article can be found on the link provided.


    "A common etiology (cause) for CFS with MCS, PTSD and FM
    has been suggested by others (discussed in refs. 4,9). A
    common causal mechanism for these four conditions is
    suggested not only by the association among these different
    conditions (many people are afflicted by more than one) but also
    by the overlapping symptoms typically found in these four
    conditions (see refs. 4 and 9 for discussion). These overlaps
    raise the question about whether MCS, FM and PTSD may be
    caused by excessive nitric oxide and peroxynitrite. Each of
    these four conditions is reported to be often preceded by and
    possibly induced by exposure to a relatively short-term stress
    that can induce excessive nitric oxide synthesis."


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