Positive psychology as a ray of light in fibromyalgia

Try to imagine having a chronic pain condition, in addition, you also have to deal with disturbed sleep, mood disorders and cognitive disturbances. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality for about 3% of the population who suffer from fibromyalgia syndrome. The worst part: to date, there is no specific treatment option. That the field of positive psychology might be helpful in providing some relief to deal with this chronic condition, is demonstrated in a Spanish study. A Spanish research team conducted a study on the effectiveness of the Best Possible Self, which is a well-known intervention within positive psychology, on fibromyalgia patients. The team randomly assigned 71 fibromyalgia patients to either the Best Possible Self (BPS) group or the daily activities group. The first group was asked to imagine a future in which they were their best possible self, by use of an interactive system to enrich visualization. The control group was given guided imagery exercises with focus on daily activities rather than the future. Both groups received reminders via text messages to do the exercises. Results show that the BPS-group did not only improve in depression but also in positive affect and self-efficacy. A three-month follow-up revealed that the BPS-group improved their optimism and negative affect more than control group. Although the study population is relatively small, the results are encouraging for people with fibromyalgia. It also reveals that positive psychology is a magical field that has a lot of potential, including for those who are chronically ill.

Source: Molinari, G., García-Palacios Azucena, Enrique Ángel, Roca, P., Fernández-Llanio Comella Nagore, & Botella, C. (2018). The power of visualization: back to the future for pain management in fibromyalgia syndrome. Pain Medicine, 19(7), 1451–1468. https://doi.org/10.1093/pm/pnx298

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