Fibromyalgia Impact and Depressive Symptoms: Can Perceiving a Silver Lining Make a Difference?

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Individuals with fibromyalgia are at greater risk for depressive symptoms than the general population, and this may be partially attributable to physical symptoms that impair day-to-day functioning. However, individual-level protective characteristics may buffer risk for psychopathology. For instance, the ability to perceive a “silver lining” in one’s illness may be related to better mental and physical health. We examined perceived silver lining as a potential moderator of the relation between fibromyalgia impact and depressive symptoms. Our sample of persons with fibromyalgia (N = 401) completed self-report measures including the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire-Revised, Depression Anxiety Stress Scales, and the Silver Lining Questionnaire. Moderation analyses covaried age, sex, and ethnicity. Supporting hypotheses, increasing impact of disease was related to greater depressive symptoms, and perceptions of a silver lining attenuated that association. Despite the linkage between impairment and depressive symptoms, identifying positive aspects or outcomes of illness may reduce risk for psychopathology. Therapeutically promoting perception of a silver lining, perhaps via signature strengths exercises or a blessings journal, and encouraging cognitive reframing of the illness experience, perhaps via Motivational Interviewing or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, may reduce depressive symptoms in persons with fibromyalgia.