Chronic fatigue syndrome not fully understood

November 08, 1999

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a "multidimensional illness experience" that is not well-understood by researchers and health care professionals, according to scientists at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of Medicine and Dentistry at the New Jersey Medical School.

The researchers conducted an extensive review of recent studies addressing the definition, prevalence, prognosis, causes, and treatment of CFS. Their research appears in the current issue of Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

"CFS is a frustrating illness for its sufferers, their physicians and allied health care professionals, and the scientists studying it," said Susan K. Johnson, PhD, head of the study. "Although CFS has been the focus of increased research efforts in the past decade, a fractious lack of consensus exists on how it should be defined, and insufficient progress has been made toward understanding its etiology and prognosis, and toward designing effective treatments."

Definitions of CFS have evolved over time. According to a 1994 joint Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Institutes of Health working group, CFS involves six-month1s duration of persistent, unexplained fatigue combined with other symptoms such as cognitive impairment, sore throat, tender neck or lymph nodes, muscle pain, joint paint, unusual headache, unrefreshing sleep, and more than 24 hours of post-exertional malaise.

Just as definitions of CFS vary, the literature review also showed that estimates of its prevalence also vary. Studies in the United States have estimated that as many as 380 out of every 100,000 people suffer from the syndrome, which most often afflicts middle-aged women.

The researchers also note that debate continues as to whether CFS is an emotional disorder or an organic disease. Some researchers have postulated that CFS is a manifestation of a psychiatric condition such as hypochondriasis, somatization disorder, or forms of depression, although patterns of CFS generally differ from those of depression. Other scientists contend that CFS is a medical illness resulting from a virus or an infection or from neuroendocrine abnormalities.

The research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health.
Annals of Behavioral Medicine is the official peer-reviewed publication of The Society of Behavioral Medicine. For information about the journal, contact Arthur Stone, PhD, 516-632-8833.

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health < >. For information about the Center, call Petrina Chong, < > (202) 387-2829.

Center for Advancing Health

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to