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Childhood abuse linked to chronic fatigue syndrome

Those exposed to emotional and sexual abuses during childhood have a higher risk of developing chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Childhood abuse linked to chronic fatigue syndrome

Those exposed to emotional and sexual abuses during childhood have a higher risk of developing chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Patients with CFS suffer from debilitating fatigue that doesn't get better with rest, and may be worsened by physical or mental activity. Other symptoms include joint and muscle pain, memory problems and difficulty in concentration. To evaluate the association between childhood trauma and CFS, researchers from America identified 113 persons with CFS and compared them to 124 controls. The researchers took into consideration self-reported childhood trauma (sexual, physical, and emotional abuse; emotional and physical neglect), psychopathology (depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder), and salivary cortisol response to awakening. Among the CFS patients, 62 percent had experienced at least one type of childhood trauma, such as sexual, physical or emotional abuse, or emotional or physical neglect, compared to 24 percent of the control group. Individuals who reported moderate to severe levels of sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and emotional abuse in childhood were nearly six times more likely to have CFS compared to people who didn't experience maltreatment in early life. CFS patients who were ill-treated as children had abnormally low levels of cortisol, a hormone the body needs in order to mount a healthy response to stress. Cortisol secretion was normal in the patients who weren't abused in childhood. The above findings show that childhood trauma is an important risk factor of CFS.
Archives of General Psychiatry
January 2009
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