Abstract: Comparative Study of Anxiety, Depression, Somatization, Functional Disability, and Illness Attribution in Adolescents With Chronic Fatigue or Migraine

Pediatrics 2003 Apr;111(4):E376-E381

Smith MS, Martin-Herz SP, Womack WM, Marsigan JL.

Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington. Departments of Psychology. Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

OBJECTIVE: To compare adolescents with migraine, unexplained profound chronic fatigue of >6 months duration, and normal school controls on measures of anxiety, depression, somatization, functional disability, and illness attribution.

METHODS: Adolescents referred to Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center for behavioral treatment of migraine (n = 179) or evaluation of chronic fatigue (n = 97) were compared with a group of healthy controls of similar age and sex from a middle school (n = 32). Subjects completed the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-Trait Form, the Children’s Depression Inventory, the Childhood Somatization Inventory, and estimated the number of school days missed in the past 6 months because of illness. Migraine and fatigued subjects completed an illness attribution questionnaire.

RESULTS: Subjects in the 3 groups were 56% to 70% female and ranged from 11 years old to 18 years old with a mean age of 14.0 +/- 2.0. Forty-six of the 97 chronically fatigued adolescents met 1994 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome (CDC-CFS), while 51 had idiopathic chronic fatigue syndrome (I-CFS) that did not meet full CDC criteria.

Adolescents with migraine had significantly higher anxiety scores than those with I-CFS or controls and higher somatization scores than controls. Adolescents with CDC-CFS had significantly higher anxiety scores than those with I-CFS or controls, and higher depression and somatization scores than all other groups.

There were significant differences between all groups for school days missed with CDC-CFS more than I-CFS more than migraine more than controls. Parents of adolescents with unexplained I-CFS had significantly lower attribution scores relating illness to possible psychological or stress factors than parents of adolescents with CDC-CFS or migraine.

CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents referred to an academic center for evaluation of unexplained chronic fatigue had greater rates of school absenteeism than adolescents with migraine or healthy controls. Those meeting CDC-CFS criteria had higher anxiety scores than controls and higher depression and somatization scores than migraineurs or controls. Parents of adolescents with I-CFS were less likely to endorse psychological factors as possibly contributing to their symptoms than parents of adolescents with CDC-CFS or migraine.

PMID: 12671155 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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