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Stress, Trauma Linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Two studies show self-reported stress, exposure to trauma early in life increases risk for chronic fatigue syndrome

MONDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Stress or traumatic events experienced early in life can contribute to the development of chronic fatigue syndrome as an adult, according to two studies in the November issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Christine Heim, Ph.D., of Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and colleagues examined 43 subjects with chronic fatigue syndrome and 60 controls. The investigators found that exposure to childhood trauma was linked to a threefold to eightfold risk for chronic fatigue syndrome and was graded according to the degree of trauma they experienced.

In a second study, Kenji Kato, Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, used a Swedish Twin Registry to test the association between pre-morbid stress and chronic fatigue-like illness. They found that those with higher emotional instability and self-reported stress were at a 1.72-fold increased risk for fatigue-like illness.

Both studies conclude that stress early in life can contribute to chronic fatigue later in life, suggesting a possible mechanism for chronic fatigue syndrome. "Studies scrutinizing the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms that translate childhood adversity into chronic fatigue syndrome risk may provide direct targets for the early prevention of chronic fatigue syndrome," write Heim and colleagues.

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