Psychiatric adjustment in adolescents with a history of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

OBJECTIVE: To ascertain psychiatric adjustment in youngsters

with a history of childhood chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

METHOD: Subjects were 25 children and adolescents with CFS who

were seen in tertiary pediatric/psychiatric clinics (mean age

15.6 years, seen a mean of 45.5 months after illness onset; 17

subjects had recovered and 8 were still ill) and 15 healthy

matched controls. Youngsters and their parents (usually

mothers) were interviewed and completed questionnaires.

Instruments used included the Schedule for Affective Disorders

and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children (K-SADS), the Child

Behavior Checklist (CBCL), and the Harter Self-Esteem


RESULTS: At assessment, psychiatric disorders

(mainly anxiety and depressive disorders) were present in half

the subjects with a history of CFS, a rate significantly

higher than in healthy controls. On the CBCL youngsters with a

history of CFS had an excess of psychological symptoms and

decreased social competence. On the Harter Self-Esteem

Questionnaire they reported reduced self-esteem, especially in

social competence. Anxiety disorders were significantly more

common in recovered subjects than in those with active CFS

illness status.

CONCLUSIONS: Psychiatric disorders were found

to be increased in adolescents with a history of severe CFS;

CFS may enhance the risk for or share common predisposing

factors with anxiety disorders.

Garralda E, Rangel L, Levin M, Roberts H, Ukoumunne O

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