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Onset and temporal sequencing patterns of comorbidity between lifetime major depression, panic disorder and fibromyalgia

1, 2, 3, 4


  1. Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Hermanas Hospitalarias, Villa San Benedetto Menni Hospital, Albese con Cassano, Como, and Humanitas Clinical and Research Centre, Rozzano, Milan, Italy.
  2. Rheumatology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Messina, Italy.
  3. Department of Clinical and Molecular Science, University Polytechnic of Marche, Jesi, Ancona, Italy.
  4. Rheumatology Unit, Internal Medicine Department, ASST Fatebenefratelli-Sacco, Milan, Italy.

2022 Vol.40, N°6
PI 1194, PF 1201
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PMID: 35699055 [PubMed]

Received: 22/02/2022
Accepted : 06/05/2022
In Press: 13/06/2022
Published: 23/06/2022


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a syndrome of unknown aetiology characterised by chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain and associated with high rates of psychiatric comorbidities, mainly mood and anxiety disorders. This study aims to determine the age at onset (AAO) and temporal sequencing patterns of FM and its frequent and distinguishable psychiatric comorbidities, the major depressive episode/s (MDE), and panic disorder (PD).
Diagnosis of MDE and PD were assigned using the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition (DSM-IV). The AAO of FM, MDE, and PD was defined using the event history calendar. All patients completed a sociodemographic data form, self-report questionnaires measuring FM-related symptoms and function, and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire-28 (CTQ-28).
98 (83%) of the 118 recruited patients with FM had at least one psychiatric comorbidity. Two main temporal patterns were identified among the 83 patients (70.3 %) who could reliably report the age at onset of FM and psychiatric comorbidities. In the concurrent comorbidity pattern (CCP), MDE and/or PD co-occurred with the onset of FM. In the sequential pattern (SP), the patients first developed PD, then MDE, and finally FM. FM patients with SP are overweight and younger than those with a CCP (FM concurrent with MDE and PD) and reported more childhood adversities, mainly sexual abuse. AAO of psychiatric comorbidities significantly differed between the two patterns.
The presence of different temporal comorbidity patterns may suggest prevention/early treatment interventions, especially in patients with childhood adversities and early-onset PD.


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