Writing in Journals/Diaries May Improve Health of FM Patients

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by JLH, Sep 16, 2006.

  1. JLH

    JLH New Member

    The Health Effects of At-Home Written Emotional Disclosure in Fibromyalgia: A Randomized Trial.



    Background:
    The presence and severity of the chronic pain syndrome fibromyalgia (FM) is associated with unresolved stress and emotional regulation difficulties. Written emotional disclosure is intended to reduce stress and may improve health of people with FM.


    Purpose:
    This study tests the effects of at-home, written emotional
    disclosure about stressful experiences on the health of people with FM and uses multiple follow-ups to track the time course of effects of disclosure.


    Methods:
    Adults with FM (intention-to-treat, n = 83; completers, n = 72) were randomized to write for 4 days at home about either stressful experiences (disclosure group) or neutral time management (control group).

    Group differences in immediate mood effects and changes in health from baseline to 1-month and 3-month follow-ups were examined.

    Results:
    Written disclosure led to an immediate increase in negative mood, which did not attenuate across the 4 writing days. Repeated-measures analyses from baseline to each follow-up point were conducted on both intention-to-treat and completer samples, which showed similar outcomes. At 1 month, disclosure led to few health benefits, but control writing led to less negative affect and more perceived support than did disclosure. At 3-month follow-up, these negative affect and social support effects disappeared, and written disclosure led to a greater reduction in global impact, poor sleep, health care utilization, and(marginally) physical disability than did control writing. Interpretation of these apparent benefits needs to be made cautiously, however, because the disclosure group had somewhat poorer health than controls at baseline and the control group showed some minor worsening over time.


    Conclusions:
    Written emotional disclosure can be conducted at home, and
    there is tentative evidence that disclosure benefits the health of people with FM. The benefits, however, may be delayed for several months after writing and may be of limited clinical significance.

    __________
    Ann Behav Med. 2006 Oct;32(2):135-46.
    Gillis ME, Lumley MA, Mosley-Williams A, Leisen JC, Roehrs T.
    Wayne State University.
    PMID: 16972811



    [This Message was Edited on 09/17/2006]
  2. Aeronsmom

    Aeronsmom New Member

    I wonder really how true that is??? I have been writing a daily diary for 5 yrs now and my health has not im proved...if anything it is getting worse. Would love to know other people thoughts on this too...good thread tho.

    Love, Ann
  3. MamaDove

    MamaDove New Member


    It infers it MAY improve the health of people with FMS...

    I have always written down what I do in a day...How I sleep, feel, weather and foods I consume...I have a folder in which I keep my journals and boy it's over 2" thick...

    One of my therapists recommended it years ago to see what 'triggered' certain symptoms...

    Then my gastro recommended it to see what preceeded my UC/Crohns attacks...

    I am neither better health-wise nor have we found the 'triggers' for any of my symptoms...For me, I now know that these dd's come when they want no matter what I do...I can eat well and have an IBD flare, I can sleep somewhat well and be in more pain than ever and I can take a supplement that I think makes me feel better, yet it's clear that IT doesn't...

    I know keeping a journal after the loss of a loved one DOES HELP the person through the grieving process, but for me, keeping journals for my health has not been successful...If anything, it proved that I am not in control of my illnesses, they control me...

    Hope others read this and respond...

    ~Alicia
  4. sfrazier

    sfrazier New Member

    I only use mine when I've had a really rough and bad day. I don't know if it takes any of the physical pain away but it does make me feel better emotionally and that in my life is considered Stress. But then I'm a big believer that when your feeling really stressed and emotionally like your on your last leg write it down. You don't have to have a journal or a diary. Just a paper that if you want you can through it away when your done. Look at all the ot vents that we have on this board. I think it is good to vent......SueF
  5. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    I study this stuff professionally (my Ph.D. is academic rather than clinical) and here's a summary of what seems to be the consensus in the field.

    Talking about your problems and thoughts with any sympathetic listener is positive for your emotional state. Writing them down also is helpful, as a substitute or adjunct.

    Talking about or writing about specific things that have happened and how they have made you feel is more effective than just writing about how bad etc. you feel in general.

    For people who have experienced traumatic events, talking about or writing about them in minute detail and in narrative form (e.g. starting from what was going on prior to the event and working your way to the time afterwards) is pretty much the only treatment (medical or psychological) that has ever been shown to be helpful.

    Anything that improves your emotional health is likely to improve your physical health,, since the mind and body are connected. This goes for any sort of disease, including things like cancer and diabetes and heart problems.

    Assuming that writing down thoughts did improve these patients' emotional states, these researchers' findings are completely unsurprising. People who are better emotionally are more able to handle difficult situations (like having CFS) and thus less likely to rate it as a problem. People who are more optimistic and self-confident, etc., are more likely to make proactive efforts to improve their situation (e.g. by seeking out medical care). Sleep in general is related to mood, and this study does not say that CFS patients' sleep became normal as a result of the treatment, only that it improved.

    The fact that the physical disability improved a bit but that the effect was marginal is unsurprising, if you go by the theory that better emotional state relieves stress on the body and thus allows it to fight disease better.

    The problem is when studies like this are taken to suggest that the "cure" for CFS is to treat emotional problems. If only it were so easy. Even the most difficult emotional problems to treat (meaning ones caused by things other than screwed-up biochemistry as in schizophrenia or bipolar) have some total long-term rates. CFS cure rates seem to be about at 0%, as far as I've been able to see.
  6. JLH

    JLH New Member

    lisapetrison,
    Thank you so much for your professional opinion!

    haley,
    Crying ..... it doesn't sound silly!!! LOL I end up crying a lot when my pain gets really bad and I am at a breaking point! I feel like I am having a meltdown!! And crying uncontrollably for a few minutes really seems to help!! LOL So, I can really relate!!! Re your journal, do you keep your daily pain level in it, too?


    Janet