According to current research on Fibromyalgia, “stress disrupts the normal functioning of the hippocampus, resulting in reduced dopamine, a vital brain neurotransmitter”.
Researchers are slowly moving toward a unified theory that explains the origin and cause of Fibromyalgia. Researchers believe that Fibromyalgia represents a “significant sensitization of the brain and spinal cord”.
The theory is that Fibromyalgia is mainly a brain dysfunction that results from stress-induced physiological changes to a part of the brain called the hippocampus and to the neurotransmitter dopamine.
The hippocampus is very sensitive to stress and is the brain organ that allows us to respond to environmental stressors in a way that helps us avoid danger. This is known as the “fight or flight” response.
Research has shown that chronic stress can contribute to a disruption of normal hippocampus function. The hippocampus is what plays a major role in pain perception and memory formation. It is also involved in controlling the production of dopamine.
Dopamine abnormalities have also been linked to restless leg syndrome, along with increased pain and feelings of self doubt, problems with memory formation and anxiety.
If the dopamine theory proves to be correct, engaging in a program to reduce stress may help to keep dopamine levels normal.