The epidemiology of fatigue and depression: a French primary-care study

Psychol Med. 1995 Sep;25(5):895-905. doi: 10.1017/s0033291700037387.


The prevalence of fatigue as a presenting complaint and as a symptom is evaluated in French general practice patients. The data for a sample of 3784 persons 18-64 years-of-age who were seen by 367 general practitioners were examined for fatigue as a presenting complaint, diagnosis, and reported symptoms of persistent fatigue. Gender, age, and socio-professional category were considered as potential risk correlates. At least one of the symptoms of persistent fatigue was reported by 41.2% of the patients, but only 7.6% had presented with fatigue to the doctor. Women reported more symptoms of fatigue than men, but they were only slightly more likely to present with, or be diagnosed with fatigue; women were more frequently diagnosed with depression. There was a strong relationship between the symptoms of depression as measured by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) and fatigue, but fatigue was neither sensitive nor specific for the diagnosis of depression. Age and fatigue as a presenting complaint and diagnosis were strongly associated for men. After adjusting for sex and age, we found that lower social classes were less likely to be diagnosed as fatigued, though they were more likely to report symptoms of fatigue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Fatigue / diagnosis
  • Fatigue / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychological Tests
  • Sex Factors