How EDS Affects Mental Health

Emily Malcolm, PhD avatar

by Emily Malcolm, PhD |

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mental health in EDS

A combination of symptoms and stress from chronic pain in patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) can contribute to the risk of mental health problems.

EDS refers to a group of disorders that affect the connective tissue, making it weak and easy to damage. Connective tissue gives structure and support to joints, skin, blood vessels, and organs. Weakening in the connective tissue causes mobility issues and raises the risk of injury for patients, potentially leading to mental health problems.

What mental health problems are common in EDS?

Research has shown that anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders are common in EDS patient populations.

Somatoform disorders, where patients experience pain and fatigue without a known cause, are also common in patients with EDS.

What causes mental health problems?

Genetics plays a role in mental health, though researchers don’t know the extent of this connection. A person’s genetic blueprint may predispose them to developing mental health issues, but the environment may be responsible for the development of symptoms.

Pain is one of the main factors contributing to mental health problems in EDS. Many patients may also be anxious about experiencing dislocations as they go about their daily lives. The disease may cause sleep disturbances, resulting in a lack of enough restful sleep. Finally, chronic fatigue can exacerbate or contribute to mental health problems.

How common are psychiatric disorders in EDS?

In classical and hypermobile EDS, the prevalence of psychiatric disorders may be as high as 43%. The anxiety rate may be as high as 25% and the depression rate as high as 26%.

Because other types of EDS are rarer, researchers have conducted few studies on mental health and psychiatric problems on these patients.


Last updated: June 10, 2020


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