On our “mind-body science” page we explain that fibromyalgia and anxiety symptoms naturally coexist because of the human pain response reflex; however, there is another very common source of fibromyalgia related anxiety symptoms that is overlooked by many doctors.
When we are living with fibromyalgia, we tend to be highly sensitive and vulnerable to the world around us. When we have a condition such as fibromyalgia that exhibits multiple symptoms, it can be too easy for doctors to write it off as psycologically induced anxiety symptoms.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is one of the primary co-conditions to fibromyalgia. Also referred to as Toxic Encephalopathy. This basically means that the body has a more difficult time neutralizing and detoxing chemicals and other toxins from the body. Do you notice an increase of symptoms when you are exposed to perfume, cologne, laundry detergent or any other synthetic fragrance?
It can be a challenging symptom because the main way to prevent symptoms is through avoidance. It is imperative to get family members on board. It is essential to avoid exacerbating symptoms from exposure to colognes, detergents or any toxins that we come into close proximity with on a daily basis.
Fibromyalgia has also been linked with dysautonomia, due to the effects on the autonomic nervous system. Anxiety symptoms could actually be the autonomic nervous system reacting to a variety of environmental toxins or stimulants. This in turn affects heart rate, digestion, blood pressure, and even the ability of the body to control temperature.
What outwardly exhibits itself as “anxiety” is often a sensitivity or intolerance to stimulants, irritants and/or toxins in our environment. This also keeps the adrenals and the fight or flight reflex in constant motion therefore exhibiting what we refer to as “adrenaline dominance”, an additional facet of fibromyalgia and anxiety symptoms.
Your Fibromyalgia and Anxiety Symptoms
May Be A Toxic Reaction
Stimulants come in many forms and are not always viewed as negative, at least not in the moment. There are many non chemical forms of stress as well. Are you sensitive to noise and sounds such as the doorbell or a phone ringing?
Maybe you have people shooting off random fireworks in your neighborhood?
Once the nervous system is stimulated in the fibro body, it can have a difficult time regulating back down. The noise might be long over, but your system is still reeling with this “adrenaline dominance” facet of fibromyalgia and anxiety symptoms.
“how many doctors are treating anxiety disorders that are actually rooted in environmental toxins?”
Have you ever gone to a shopping mall where many toxins are circulating from new materials off-gassing or fragrances wafting out from stores and wondered why you start to feel bad so quickly? Does your body become weak in a situation like that? Do you then have anxiety type reactions even though emotionally you are fine? That is where the symptoms exhibited are not often accurately correlated; that is the “adrenaline dominance” side of fibromyalgia and anxiety symptoms.
Even exposure to EMF’s from wireless phones and computers or your home cable company wifi can cause anxiety type symptoms in the vulnerable fibro body.
For instance, how many doctors are treating “anxiety symptoms” that are actually rooted within environmental stimulants, toxins and adrenaline dominance? How many people are becoming dependent on medications for anxiety but still suffering due to constant exposures they may not connect to their environment?
Even talcum powder (which I have always been intolerant to) has recently come under fire for being a very dangerous carcinogen, linked to cancer, especially ovarian cancer. Many beauty products are hazardous to our health, from hairsprays to makeup. I never needed a “study” or research to know it was toxic, my body knew all along.
Another issue with excess environmental toxins and stimuli is that they can greatly contribute to brain fog. If a person with fibromyalgia is exposed to laundry toxins, cleaning chemicals, petro fumes, formaldehyde, electrical frequencies, etc., we can’t expect them to think clearly! The brain is too busy merely trying to survive. You can read more on fibro fog here.
As previously mentioned, brain fog can easily be exacerbated by everyday toxins in our environment. There is a direct connection between fibromyalgia and toxins in our environment. Remember, that many of the man made chemicals and toxic agents are fairly new to us, they were not around 100 years ago like they are today.
One of my greatest offenders continues to be laundry products. I have used natural laundry products since a young age. Even if you do not have an immediate reaction like I do, what if the continual onslaught of exposures is accelerating your fibro pain?
Neurological symptoms related to environmental illness within fibromyalgia include brain fog, memory loss (especially short term), increased pain in the head and face, sinus pain, vision disturbances, extreme sensitivity to light, nerve pain, burning in the back of the head and activation of trigger points around the head, leading to radiating pain and migraine headaches.
Over Stimulation Leads To Weakness
So when we are continually over stimulated by our environment, this can lead to weakness in the body. Much like over working the adrenal glands. At some point, they get exhausted from all of the working overtime they have to do. So excess stimulation leads to weakness in an already vulnerable fibro body. Not a good combination, right?
A common area of weakness and pain when exposed can occur around the entire upper body, head, neck, shoulders and the pectoralis muscles in the outer chest area. These environmental stress reactions can cause severe tightness which can in turn increase pain. Arms, legs and extremities can become weak due to over stimulation.
Let me give a recent example where an “innocent” exposure (at least innocent to others) caused me to have “fibromyalgia and anxiety symptoms” that had nothing to do with true anxiety.
I was getting a massage at my regular massage therapy place and within about 5-10 minutes of being on the table, my heart started racing and I felt nauseous and shaky. I knew something wasn’t right. The touch and everything else was the same. In fact, the massage itself felt really good as it usually does.
What I found out from speaking with the staff, was that they had recently started using fabric softener to make the sheets on the table less wrinkled. (This is the reason I have often brought my own sheets to massage therapy, but this place was always an exception UNTIL they changed their laundering habits.) I was a little disheartened knowing I would again have to bring my sheets AND that this one experience was not the relaxing one that I often look forward to.
So, my point is that many people would think that the heart palpitations, nausea, migraine, and increased pain and weakness are merely due to their condition; yet, the instigator of these symptoms in a flash moment such as this were actually produced from toxins in the laundry chemicals coming into close proximity of our bodies.
We cannot control every environment, yet we can exert greater control over the places that we spend more of our time. This really is essential when living with the complexities of fibromyalgia and anxiety symptoms that will only exacerbate our symptoms.
Read here about Chemical Sensitivity and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
What about breathing with MCS?
When we are often exposed to toxins and fragrances that make us feel sick or give us headaches, it is only natural to develop a habit of holding our breath. Of course this is the last thing we want to do. So what I find helpful is to use a face mask (I like and recommend a face mask from I Can breathe.com but any will do) and close the mouth and then do some deep breathing through the nose while wearing the face mask.
You can even close one nostril at a time and breathe in and out through the other nostril. This will calm the body and the adrenal glands. Mouth breathing increases anxiety whereas nostril breathing reduces anxiety.
Fireworks : not just noise pollution
Have you noticed that more people seem to be shooting off random fireworks?
This has become a form of noise pollution that affects those with fibromyalgia, PTSD, animals, and those with sensitive nervous systems. However, it also affects the air quality. And with fibromyalgia, we are vulnerable to both noise and air quality.
There are chemicals in these fireworks that saturate the air for hours. You might need to avoid being directly around them for both reasons. We all love to celebrate, but we also need to have consideration, so that we can be better prepared for them.
You can read more about fibromyalgia and adrenal symptoms on my adrenal stress page. Keep in mind that the solutions I suggest in the “adrenal stress” article, may not always help with the fibromyalgia and anxiety symptoms caused by environmental factors detailed here which would be more of an avoidance or reduced exposure issue.