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An investigation of the long-term benefits of antidepressant medication in the recovery of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome

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By Marie A Thomas* and Andrew P Smith • • October 4, 2006

Journal: Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, September 18, 2006 [E-publication ahead of print] DOI: 10.1002/hup.805
Authors and Affiliation: Marie A. Thomas, Andrew P. Smith. Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, UK.
Funded by: Linbury Trust, Gatsby Foundation *Correspondence to Marie A. Thomas, Centre for Occupational & Health Psychology, 63 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AS, UK. email: Marie A. Thomas ( PMID: 16981220

Two hundred and seventy-five patients fulfilling the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) completed measures assessing illness history, global ratings of well being, sleep, activity and psychopathology at baseline, 6 months, 18 months, and 3 year follow-up. Forty-nine of these patients had been prescribed antidepressant medication, namely Tricyclic drugs or Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRI). Data from the current study suggests that patients in the antidepressant medication group recover at a faster rate over time when compared to the untreated patient sample. In addition, the positive effects of antidepressant therapy are maintained at the 3-year follow-up point. It appears from these data that the SSRI in particular are responsible for improvements in the condition. Most importantly, these improvements include a reduction in the levels of fatigue recorded by patients. These findings have not been demonstrated in previous studies of the effect of antidepressant therapy for patients with this illness and this may reflect the short time periods studied in the earlier research. Keywords: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, antidepressant medication, recovery

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