Objectives: Most previous research regarding chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and depression has relied on clinical samples. The current research determined the prevalence and correlates of depression among individuals with CFS in a community sample.
Methods: The nationally representative Canadian Community Health Survey, conducted in 2000/2001, included an unweighted sample size of 1,045 individuals who reported a diagnosis of CFS and had complete data on depression. Respondents with CFS who were depressed (n = 369) were compared to those who were not depressed (n = 676). Chi-square analyses, t-tests and a logistic regression were conducted.
Thirty-six per cent of individuals with CFS were depressed.
Among individuals with CFS, depression was associated with lower levels of mastery and self-esteem.
In the logistic regression analyses, the odds of depression among individuals with CFS were higher for females, younger respondents, those with lower incomes and food insecurity, and those whose activities were limited by pain.
Two in five depressed individuals had not consulted with any mental health professional in the preceding year.
Twenty-two per cent of depressed respondents (7.9 per cent of all those with CFS) had seriously considered suicide in the past year.
Individuals with CFS who were depressed were particularly heavy users of family physicians, with an average of 11.1 visits annually (95% confidence interval = 10.7, 11.6).
Conclusion: It is important for clinicians to assess depression and suicidal ideation among their patients with CFS, particularly among females, those reporting moderate to severe pain, low incomes and inadequate social support.