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Psychiatry Res. 2011 Sep 30;189(2):318-20. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2011.07.015. Epub 2011 Aug 15.

Cumulative life stress in chronic fatigue syndrome.

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National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.


We studied the impact of cumulative life stress on CFS in a population-based study. We found that exposure to stressors was significantly more common in persons with CFS compared to NF controls; those with CFS reported experiencing significantly higher levels of psychological distress. Also, post-traumatic stress disorder was significantly more common in people with CFS. These results not only corroborate findings from other studies but, importantly, extend those by: a) measuring a comprehensive spectrum of stress variables, b) for the first time presenting data on stress in a population-based study, thus minimizing the effects of recruitment bias, and c) diagnosing CFS by means of standardized, validated scales, thus allowing replication and extension of our findings. Stress may be an important factor in the pathophysiology of CFS. Consequently, future studies should provide a more detailed understanding of the processes that lead from stress to CFS using longitudinal designs.

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