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Chronic Fatigue

EEG Patterns and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
By: Thomas H. Budzynski, Ph.D

he number of investigations of the degree and extent of cognitive difficulties found in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) subjects has increased in recent years. Deficits in speed of information processing, psychomotor activity, semantic processing, logical reasoning, and metabolism of the cerebral cortex (measured using a SPECT scan) all demonstrate the broad array of cognitive difficulties associated with this disorder (DeLuca, Johnson, Beldowicz, & Natelson, 1995; Johnson, DeLuca, Fiedler, & Natelson, 1994; Krupp, Sliwinski, Masur, Friedburg, & Coyle, 1994; Ray, Phillips, &Weir, 1993; Schwartz et al., 1994; Smith, Behan, Bell, Millar, & Bakheit, 1993).

Although current research has yet to establish any etiological factor or combination of factors that characterize a majority of CFS patients, numerous studies have demonstrated psychological differences between CFS patients and controls representing the general population (Hickie, Lloyd, Wakefield, & Parker, 1990; Krupp et al., 1994; Swanink et al., 1995). Hickie et al. (1990) concluded that psychological impairment in CFS is a result of the illness and not a precursor to CFS. They found that the premorbid prevalence of ma or depression (12.5%) and of total psychiatric disorder (24.5%) was no higher than general community estimates. Only 20.5% of the CFS patients studied by Schweitzer, Robertson, Kelly, and Whiting (1994) exceeded the severe depression cutoff on the Beck Depression Inventory In contrast, Manu et al. (1989) claimed that depression is an important antecedent to chronic fatigue. Unfortunately, CDC criteria for CFS were not used in the selection process for subjects in the latter study, making comparisons between this and other studies difficult. Krupp et al. (1994) found that CFS patients rated themselves as significantly more depressed on self-report questionnaires when compared to controls (p <.001), with a lifetime prevalence of major depression (determined through psychiatric interview) at 40%. Only CFS subjects who included cognitive symptoms among the major CDC criteria were used in this study This selection criteria may have indirectly limited CFS inclusion to those subjects who were more depressed.
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