Hyperventilation in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: the role of coping strategies

Behav Res Ther. 2007 Nov;45(11):2679-90. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2007.07.003. Epub 2007 Jul 20.


Hyperventilation has been suggested as a concomitant and possible maintaining factor that may contribute to the symptom pattern of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Because patients accepting the illness and trying to live with it seem to have a better prognosis than patients chronically fighting it, we investigated breathing behavior during different coping response sets towards the illness in patients with CFS (N=30, CDC criteria). Patients imagined a relaxation script (baseline), a script describing a coping response of hostile resistance, and a script depicting acceptance of the illness and its (future) consequences. During each imagery trial, end-tidal PCO2 (Handheld Capnograph, Oridion) was measured. After each trial, patients filled out a symptom checklist. Results showed low resting values of PetCO2 overall, while only imagery of hostile resistance triggered a decrease and deficient recovery of PetCO2. Also, more hyperventilation complaints and complaints of other origin were reported during hostile resistance imagery compared with acceptance and relaxation. In conclusion, hostile resistance seems to trigger both physiological and symptom perception processes contributing to the clinical picture of CFS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Attitude to Health
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / etiology*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperventilation / complications*
  • Hyperventilation / psychology
  • Imagination
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychometrics