By Suzanne Elvidge BSc ( hons ).

Edited by Fibromyalgia Support N I

Coming to terms with the diagnosis of a serious long-term condition can be difficult, whether it has come as a surprise or is the result of a long period of investigation and uncertainty. In order to make sure that people with fibromyalgia syndrome live a life with as high a quality as possible, it is important to come to terms with the diagnosis in order to move forward. Families and friends also have to come to terms with the diagnosis too- the loss of the health and strength of the person they love.

Grief and Depression

It is natural to feel shock and sadness at a diagnosis of a chronic disease such as fibromyalgia syndrome - in fact the process can be similar to that of grieving, because people with fibromyalgia syndrome have to accept that they are ill and that they may not be able to fulfil their dreams for careers or travel because of the tiredness,  pain and other symptoms associated with the disorder. Added to this, because depression is a common symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome, this can make the coping process especially difficult.

People who feel that they are not moving through the stages of grief, or that they are suffering from depression should see a doctor, for talking therapies, medications or both. Dealing with the depression will make it easier to deal with the diagnosis.


After moving through the grieving process, the next step of the process of coming to terms with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome is acceptance. For some people, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome will actually come as a relief, because it will explain the diverse set of symptoms they have been experiencing, and allow them to plan treatment and coping strategies. As part of the process of moving forward, it is important to talk to friends, family and work colleagues about the symptoms of the disease, especially as fibromyalgia syndrome is an "invisible" disease.

Moving Forward

Counselling can help with process of coming to terms with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome by allowing  people to move forward into the next phase of their lives. There are a variety of different types of counselling, including cognitive behaviour therapy. This form of psychotherapy focuses on thought patterns and behaviours, helping people create new thought processes, coping strategies and problem-solving skills. These strategies could include learning how to set limits on activities and changing plans for the future, and coming to terms with these changes - and perhaps even enjoying them. Counselling can also help the damage that being diagnosed with something like fibromyalgia syndrome can do to confidence and self esteem.

Many areas have self-help groups, where people newly-diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome can get support and gain hints and tips on living with the disorder day by day, and improving quality of life-it's important to maintain as good a quality of life as possible even after diagnosis. If there is nothing local, there are many fibromyalgia syndrome groups on the Internet.