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Treatment for paediatric chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and comorbid depression: a systematic review

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By M. E. Loades et al.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: At least 30% of young people with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) also have symptoms of depression. This systematic review aimed to establish which treatment approaches for depression are effective and whether comorbid depression mediates outcome.

SETTING: A systematic review was undertaken. The search terms were entered into MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycInfo and the Cochrane library.

PARTICIPANTS: Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to identify relevant papers. Inclusion criteria were children age <18, with CFS/ME, defined using CDC, NICE or Oxford criteria, and having completed a valid assessment for depression.

RESULTS: 9 studies were identified which met the inclusion criteria, but none specifically tested treatments for paediatric CFS/ME with depression and none stratified outcome for those who were depressed compared with those who were not depressed. There is no consistent treatment approach for children with CFS/ME and comorbid depression, although cognitive-behavioural therapy for CFS/ME and a multicomponent inpatient programme for CFS/ME have shown some promise in reducing depressive symptoms. An antiviral medication in a small scale, retrospective, uncontrolled study suggested possible benefit.

CONCLUSIONS: It is not possible to determine what treatment approaches are effective for depression in paediatric CFS/ME, nor to determine the impact of depression on the outcome of CFS/ME treatment. Young people with significant depression tend to have been excluded from previous treatment studies.

Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://www.bmj.com/company/products-services/rights-and-licensing/.

Source: Loades ME, Sheils EA, Crawley E. Treatment for paediatric chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and comorbid depression: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2016 Oct 11;6(10):e012271. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012271.

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