Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

CFS Traced to Childhood Trauma, Emotional Instability, Stress

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

CFS Traced to Childhood Trauma, Emotional Instability, Stress

Article excerpt

Childhood trauma and neglect, long-standing emotional instability, and stress all were forerunners of chronic fatigue syndrome that developed decades later, researchers reported in two separate studies.

The findings support the idea that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disorder of adaptation, promoted by early environmental insults and personality factors in which the brain is unable to respond appropriately to challenge.

In the first study, investigators used data collected in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 4-year population-based surveillance study of CFS in Wichita, Kan., to compare histories of childhood adversity between 43 adults with current CFS and 60 control subjects. The patients' mean age was 50 years, said Christine Heim, Ph.D., of the CDC, Atlanta, and her associates.

CFS patients had significantly higher scores for overall childhood trauma than did controls, as well as higher scores within each category of trauma including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and emotional and physical neglect, the investigators said.

The risk of developing CFS in adulthood was 3-8 times higher in subjects who experienced childhood trauma than in those who did not, depending on the type of trauma. Emotional neglect and sexual abuse were the traumas most predictive of later CFS.

The findings agree "with previous studies in tertiary care patients that found an association between CFS and victimization starting in childhood or exposure to adverse parenting," Dr. Heim and her associates said (Arch. …

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