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J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2009 Dec;16(10):884-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2009.01464.x.

Are chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia the same? Implications for the provision of appropriate mental health intervention.

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School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery, University of West of Scotland, Ayr, UK.


Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia represent distinct diagnostic entities within both the clinical and research literature. A common feature of both presentations is that they are often accompanied by a significant mental health burden. A further salient feature of both conditions is that there is no consistent consensus on aetiology. Evaluation of the features of each disorder seems to present a convincing case that both disorders may indeed have a common aetiology and further, the possibility exists that chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia represent the same underlying disorder. Paradoxically, given this possibility it is remarkable that both patient groups are treated clinically with considerably different approaches to care and management. Mental health practitioners will come into contact with both groups of patients when support for the psychological consequences of diagnosis are necessary; however, many practitioners will be unaware of the debate regarding the aetiological ambiguities surrounding these presentations. The purpose of this review is to highlight the above issues in order to both facilitate awareness of the current aetiological/diagnostic impasse and facilitate provision of optimum mental health support.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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