Psychiatric diagnoses in Gulf War veterans with fatiguing illness – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

SUMMARY: According to this study, Gulf War illness cannot be explained by merely psychiatric disorders.

Lange G, Tiersky L, DeLuca J, Peckerman A, Pollet C, Policastro T, Scharer J, Ottenweller JE, Fiedler N, Natelson BH. Psychiatry Res 1999 Dec 13;89(1):39-48. Center for Environmental Hazards Research, VA Medical Center, East Orange, NJ, USA.

The purpose of this study was to determine whether Gulf War Illness (GWI) can be explained by the presence of psychiatric disorders as assessed by DSM-III-R. To reduce the heterogeneity amongst Persian Gulf War veterans with GWI (PGV-F), only those were studied who presented with severe fatigue as a major complaint and also fulfilled clinical case definitions for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Idiopathic Chronic Fatigue, and/or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. A total of 95 Registry PGVs were examined; 53 presented with GWI and 42 did not report any post-war health problems (PGV-H). All subjects were assessed for the presence of DSM-III-R Axis I psychiatric disorders.

Compared to PGV-Hs, 49% of PGV-Fs had similar post-war psychiatric profiles: either no, or only one, psychiatric disorder was diagnosed.

Psychiatric profiles of the remaining 51% of PGV-Fs were significantly different from PGV-Hs in that most of these veterans suffered from multiple post-war psychiatric diagnoses. The presence of psychiatric disorders as assessed by DSM-III-R criteria cannot explain symptoms of Gulf War Illness among all Persian Gulf veterans with severe fatiguing illness.

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