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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) in psychiatric patients: lifetime & premorbid personal history of physical health

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OBJECTIVE: This preliminary report compares a group of chronic
fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients and controls on several
variables of potential significance in the etiology of CFS.

METHOD: The lifetime prevalence of reported physical disorders
was compared among 46 CFS psychiatric patients, 92 relatively
physically healthy psychiatric patients (C-I), and 46
psychiatric patients selected without regard to physical
health (C-II). All patients were matched on age, sex, and
psychiatric diagnosis and were drawn from the same psychiatric
practice. The same groups were compared on a 7-point scale of
lifetime physical health by three raters independently
evaluating physical health narratives of the CFS patients up
to the time of onset of CFS and that of the controls up to the
corresponding age.

RESULTS: The CFS patients had a
significantly higher reported lifetime prevalence of irritable
bowel syndrome (IBS), infectious mononucleosis-like syndromes
(IM), infectious mononucleosis- like syndromes two or more
times (IM x 2), and herpes (other than genital or perioral
herpes) than one or both control groups. The CFS group also
had a higher incidence of allergic rhinitis or asthma, IBS,
IM, and IM x 2 than the combined controls. On the independent
ratings, the CFS patients had significantly more impaired
physical health up to the time of onset of the CFS than C-I at
a comparable age.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that a
general health factor may be involved in the pathogenesis of
some cases of CFS.

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