Full Title: Psychophysical distress and alexithymic traits in chronic fatigue syndrome with and without comorbid depression.
Authors: Sepede G, Racciatti D, Gorgoretti V, Nacci M, Pizzigallo E, Onofrj M, Di Giannantonio M, Niolu C, Salerno RM, Gambi F.
Publication: International Journal of Immunpathology and Pharmacology
Publication Date: October-December 2011
Department of Neuroscience and Imaging, University of Chieti, Italy.
Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) often report a comorbid depressive disorder. Comorbid depression may negatively influence the long-term outcome of CFS therefore it must be correctly diagnosed and treated. The aim of the present study is to provide a clinical and psychometric assessment of CFS patients with and without depressive features. A comparative analysis between 57 CFS subjects (CDC, 1994), 17 of whom with a comorbid depression, and 55 matched healthy volunteers was assessed to evaluate the presence of any psychophysical distress and alexithymic traits, by means of Symptom Checklist-90-R (SCL-90R) and Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). The severity of fatigue was also assessed in all CFS patients using the Fatigue Impact Scale (FIS). With regard to psychiatric comorbidity, the SCL-90R scores showed higher levels of somatic complaints in CFS patients than in healthy subjects, whereas augmented depressive and obsessive-compulsive symptoms were observed only in the depressed CFS subgroup. When comparing the TAS-20 scores, we observed a selective impairment in the capacity to identify feelings and emotions, as measured by the Difficulty in Identifying Feelings subscale (DIF), non-depressed CFS patients showing an intermediate score between depressed CFS and healthy controls. Finally, in terms of FIS scores, a statistical trend versus a higher fatigue severity in depressed CFS patients, with respect to non-depressed ones, was observed. In conclusion, comorbid depression in CFS significantly increased the level of psychophysical distress and the severity of alexithymic traits. These findings suggest an urgent need to address and treat depressive disorders in the clinical care of CFS cases, to improve social functioning and quality of life in such patients.
View the abstract in PubMed.