Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Specific cognitions and behaviours are hypothesized to be important in maintaining chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Previous research has shown that a substantial proportion of CFS patients have co-morbid anxiety and/or depression. This study aims to measure the prevalence of specific cognitions and behaviours in patients with CFS and to determine their association with co-morbid anxiety or depression disorders. METHOD: A total of 640 patients meeting Oxford criteria for CFS were recruited into a treatment trial (i.e. the PACE trial). Measures analysed were: the Cognitive Behavioural Response Questionnaire, the Chalder Fatigue Scale and the Work and Social Adjustment Scale. Anxiety and depression diagnoses were from the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. Multivariate analysis of variance was used to explore the associations between cognitive-behavioural factors in patients with and without co-morbid anxiety and/or depression. RESULTS: Of the total sample, 54% had a diagnosis of CFS and no depression or anxiety disorder, 14% had CFS and one anxiety disorder, 14% had CFS and depressive disorder and 18% had CFS and both depression and anxiety disorders. Cognitive and behavioural factors were associated with co-morbid diagnoses; however, some of the mean differences between groups were small. Beliefs about damage and symptom focussing were more frequent in patients with anxiety disorders while embarrassment and behavioural avoidance were more common in patients with depressive disorder. CONCLUSIONS: Cognitions and behaviours hypothesized to perpetuate CFS differed in patients with concomitant depression and anxiety. Cognitive behavioural treatments should be tailored appropriately.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychol Med

Publication Date





375 - 380


Adult, Anxiety Disorders, Attention, Avoidance Learning, Catastrophization, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Comorbidity, Depressive Disorder, Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic, Female, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Humans, Interview, Psychological, Male, Models, Psychological, Multivariate Analysis, Prevalence, Severity of Illness Index, Shame