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The role of depression in pain, psychophysiological syndromes & medically unexplained symptoms associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

  [ 49 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • October 5, 1999

BACKGROUND: The association between depression and pain,
function, medically unexplained symptoms and
psychophysiological syndromes such as irritable bowel syndrome
has not been explored before in chronic fatigue syndrome.

METHODS: Cross-sectional controlled study of the current
prevalence of psychophysiological syndromes, pain, function
and lifetime prevalence of medically unexplained symptoms in
77 out-patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) without
DSM-III-R depression, 42 CFS out-patients with DSM-III-R
depression and 26 out-patient with primary DSM-III-R

RESULTS: Both CFS groups differed significantly
from the primary depression group but not each other in the
prevalence of tension headaches (P < 0.001), reporting of
widespread bodily pain (P < 0.001) and the number of lifetime
medically unexplained symptoms (P < 0.001). The three groups
did not significantly differ in the prevalence of irritable
bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia. CFS patients with depression
were more impaired in social function than other CFS patients.

CONCLUSION: Depression is not associated with the reporting of
pain, psychophysiological syndromes and medically unexplained
symptoms in CFS patients. Depression is associated with
decreased social function in CFS patients.

depended on recall of symptoms, not confirmed by medical
records and current investigations. Patients with depression
were taking antidepressants.

depression in chronic fatigue syndrome is unlikely to diminish
reporting of pain and medically unexplained symptoms but may
improve social function.

Morriss RK, Ahmed M, Wearden AJ, Mullis R, Strickland P, Appleby L,
Campbell IT, Pearson D

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