Symptoms, impairment and illness intrusiveness--their relationship with depression in women with CFS/ME

Psychol Health. 2008;23(8):983-99. doi: 10.1080/08870440701619957.


Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is an illness in which physiological and psychological factors are believed to interact to cause and maintain CFS/ME in an individual predisposed to it. The various symptoms and impairments associated with CFS/ME have a large impact on quality of life. The purpose of the present study was to identify the extent to which the core symptoms and impairments associated with CFS/ME relate to depression in women with CFS/ME, and to discover whether these relationships were mediated by illness intrusiveness. CFS/ME was found to be a highly intrusive illness, intruding into more life domains and to a greater degree than other illnesses. The effects of both symptoms and impairment on depression were, in part, mediated by illness intrusiveness. Although symptoms severity and impairment had both direct and indirect effects on depression, illness intrusiveness was the strongest predictor of depression.

Keywords: CFS; ME; depression; illness intrusiveness.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adult
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Severity of Illness Index