January 7 at 3:18 AM • Comments: 7 • Views: 27958

Is It Depression Or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a multi-faceted condition which can include many of the symptoms of depression. Similarly, characteristics of depression may lead one to the conclusion that they have CFS. A proper diagnosis can be made when we examine the two conditions in more detail. This is important for establishing an effective course of treatment.

Characteristics of Depression

Depression can affect a person over the course of a lifetime and have physical and mental consequences. Proper diagnosis and treatment can help in alleviating some or many of these characteristic symptoms:

  • Feelings of disappointment, hopelessness and despair
  • Lack of interest in work, sex, and activities that usually bring one comfort, like sharing time with friends
  • Indecisiveness and loss of focus
  • Boredom or irritability
  • Suffering from consistent ailments such as headaches
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Feeling self-destructive or even suicidal

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome overview

According to experts, two standards must be met in order to diagnosis CFS:

  • A person must have CFS for a period of at least six months without factoring other clinically diagnosed medical conditions.
  • At least four symptoms must be present during these six months: cognitive difficulties; soreness of the muscles; sleep that doesn't bring refreshment; tiredness after exertion continuing more than 24 hours; pain in various joints that doesn't involve redness or swelling; sensitive lymph nodes; throat soreness; unusual headaches.

Symptoms of CFS

There are other symptoms of CFS, and they vary from patient to patient:

  • Chronic mental and physical exhaustion, increased after engaging in an activity
  • Pain in the abdomen, chest, jaw or ears
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats and insomnia
  • Inability to tolerate alcohol or other chemicals, such as caffeine
  • Skin sensations including tingling
  • Respiratory problems

The direct causes of CFS are still unclear, and the condition can come on suddenly, or over time, often as a result of another medical condition, like Lyme disease. This controversial link is currently being researched.

Differences between CFS and depression

There are undeniable similarities between CFS and depression, but research consistently indicates some important differences which characterize CFS as a bio-physical condition which may be caused by a viral infection. Following are some noteworthy differences:

  • In terms of exercise, those who are depressed seem to improve their condition when incorporating exercise into their daily routine. In CFS, a person may be willing to exercise, but their body cannot tolerate it.
  • CFS sufferers commonly have other afflictions associated with the condition, such as fibromyalgia and sensitivity to chemicals. The link is being investigated.
  • Those who have depression may have difficulty sleeping, but CFS has been related to a dysfunction of deep-sleep patterns of the brain.
  • A suppressed immune system is a common symptom of CFS, including fevers and flu, and chronic muscle pain.

Concluding: Depression or CFS?

There is a lot of overlap in the symptoms of depression and chronic fatigue syndrome, and some similar general recommendations for treatment. However, CFS continues to elude doctors and scientists in terms of direct causes, particularly in terms of its viral implications, which are not associated with depression. A proper diagnosis is needed in order to adequately treat the condition.

Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/general/index.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20022009

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/definition/con-20032977

7 Comments

  • Freda Freda

    CFS Vs Depression. A condition I have fought most of my adult life. Commented on HelloLife · April 22, 2012 at 4:27 PM

  • Joseph Joseph

    I'm utterly floored by this jaw-dropping diagnosis breakdown of CFS. I myself have been suffering from all the symptoms associated with this condition but have always just associated my various issues with the diagnosis of Anxiety/Depression associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I always assumed that the additional symptoms I was experiencing were merely due to my perceived shortcomings and laziness. But now learning that my fatigue, excessive sleeping, chronic joint aches and muscle pains, difficulty exercising, as well as my suppressed immune system are not merely psycho-somatic as I often believed. Who knows maybe I'm not as much of a lost cause as I often tend to believe. So what now? Excuses don't pay the bills or ingratiate you to the people you've let down over the years. Commented on HelloLife · May 2, 2012 at 7:46 PM

  • Erin Erin

    Having done a lot of research for my writing, I find a lot of overlapping between conditions with a mental component to them. The truth is, we're just beginning to understand the relationship between the mental and physical and that with conditions so similar to each other and without any easily measurable markers, diagnosis of these conditions tends to be biased toward what a professional is most familiar with and what the patients is asking about.

    My advice?

    Don't put too much stock into a diagnosis - at the end of the day, it's just a word like any other. It's a convenient way to describe a set of symptoms without actually listing off a set of symptoms every time you want to talk about it. Do not let it define you.Use it only as a way of finding solutions that fit with the set of symptoms you are experiencing.

    The mind is an AMAZINGLY powerful organ. Studies have actually shown that through sheer power of will or belief we can heal ourselves or sicken ourselves. Try and focus your mind's will and power toward the first.

    You can't change the things you regret doing or you regret happening to you, but as difficult as it is, you can change the behavior and mind set you had that contributed to those things. The easiest way to overcome the things you're least proud of, is to cultivate the things you're most proud of. What about you makes you most proud? Devote time to growing that and you're bound to be happier. :) Commented on HelloLife · May 3, 2012 at 10:20 AM

  • Shannon Shannon

    I have the double whammy of depression and anxiety. It's been like this for over 6 years for me. I've had blood work,urine etc all done in the past but everything comes back normal. I've eaten so many healthy foods and exercised. NO RESULTS. I know my sleep sucks! I toss and turn alot! I can feel good for 2 hrs and all of a sudden this huge feeling of fatigue hits me like a truck. I've tested my blood sugar and that even seems normal. I feel I have very bad depression mixed with anxiety. Not CFS. I'm too stubborn to take medications and have heard how crappy the side effects can be. I don't even want to deal with anything anymore. I'm at a loss of how to deal with this. Commented on HelloLife · January 12, 2013 at 12:23 PM

  • Linda Linda

    I have been diagnosed as having viral chronic fatigue syndrome at Stanford and also as having depression by a psychiatrist and am being treated by both. I take antiviral medications as well as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. I cannot seen to get better even with the best care. Spring and fall are exceptionally bad and I can't differentiate which symptoms are CFS and which are mental and enotional. How do I differentiate? How can I tell what is the best approach to take. I feel lifeless, hopeless, and hurt. My doctors, in trying to locate those most experienced with cases like this are on opposite coasts and cannot collaborate easily. What can I do to be able to get up, go out, resume working, and regain a zest for living. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Commented on HelloLife · May 19, 2013 at 3:54 PM

  • Linda Linda

    I have been diagnosed as having viral chronic fatigue syndrome at Stanford and also as having depression by a psychiatrist and am being treated by both. I take antiviral medications as well as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. I cannot seen to get better even with the best care. Spring and fall are exceptionally bad and I can't differentiate which symptoms are CFS and which are mental and enotional. How do I differentiate? How can I tell what is the best approach to take. I feel lifeless, hopeless, and hurt. My doctors, in trying to locate those most experienced with cases like this are on opposite coasts and cannot collaborate easily. What can I do to be able to get up, go out, resume working, and regain a zest for living. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Commented on HelloLife · May 19, 2013 at 3:54 PM

  • Sharon Sharon

    Erin, we have some kind of multi factor illness causing our chronic fatigue. I've heard it referred to as a post viral syndrome (Epstein Barr after effect). It can also be brought on by Lyme Disease after being bitten by a tick and infected with the Lyme causing bacteria, or any of the other co-infections such as Babesia among others. It seems our immune systems, endocrine and mitochondria have been effected. As a sufferer we hear this all the time....."But you don't look sick" and family members telling us it's all in our heads. It isn't. Just because the medical community hasn't figured out the cause(s) yet, doesn't mean we will get healthy again by wishing it away. There is a biological cause for our symptoms. I went from happily working out 5 days a week to being bedridden for a month and a half after contracting a viral infection. Now I have chronic fatigue with post exertional exhaustion. I used to be a personal trainer. Commented on HelloLife · November 12, 2016 at 2:08 PM


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