Is Depression Part Of Your ME/CFS?

Many ME/CFS patients have been misdiagnosed with depression before they are finally given the proper diagnosis of ME/CFS.  I know I was told by doctors, even after my CFS diagnosis, that I was just “depressed” and needed to “lighten up” and not “stress so much”.  Over the past 20 years I have probably been on more than half a dozen different antidepressants.  While I don’t believe that people with ME/CFS are sick because they are depressed, I do believe that many do suffer from depression because they are sick. 

How can we not get depressed sometimes?  I know that I will go through bouts of depression each time I enter a flare.  Even when you have been sick as long as I have,  the return of major symptoms always brings with it some depression.  It’s never easy trying to carry on with life when you can’t fully enjoy it and after a while it gets old trying to pretend, put on a happy face and act as though it is no big deal. 

In my opinion, I would find it very hard to believe if someone with a chronic illness like ME/CFS would tell me that they have never suffered any depression since becoming sick.  I think that many times patients are afraid to ever mention the fact that they get depressed to their doctors because of the stigma that surrounds ME/CFS.  If a patient admits they are depressed, they fear the doctor will tie all of their symptoms to depression instead of to the real cause. 

While I am not big on taking tons of medications, I do believe that antidepressants are a staple for me and I need them. 

If you have ME/CFS or some other chronic illness, have you:

  • been diagnosed with depression along with your illness?
  • initially been diagnosed with just depression?
  • fear telling the doctor that you have bouts of depression with your illness?
  • take any antidepressants?
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  1. I’ve experienced both “types” of depression. Having been diagnosed and properly treated for clinical depression many years ago, I had a decent life prior to the me/cfs. I was a very productive person, engaged in life in all aspects.

    Then there’s the depression that comes along with the me/cfs. I agree that there is no way that anyone who seriously has me/cfs and is debilitated to the degree that it is capable of infiltrating one’s body, brain and life can honestly say they’ve never experienced depression in the process.

    Maybe there are a lucky few that hit the gene pool lottery where they were so full of seratonin and perfectly functioning synapses that the depression is not extremely deep. I’m not one of those people. I try and I try and I try, but I have many dark days. Yesterday was one of the lowest days I have had in this journey. I actually wished for death, and this is from a person whose husband used to always say, “I love your zest for life”. What a shame. The illness and other extraneous factors have sucked the life from me.

    I’m grateful that I was not granted my “wish” yesterday. Thanks for your honesty, Sandy.

  2. Michelle Wordley says:

    Depression is a real concern. I haven’t experienced sucidial thoughts as of yet, but I am afraid to mention it to my doctor. I have had people ask if I am depressed and I say soemtimes, then they say “oh that is why you sleep so much.” Uh no. The depression is because I have been sick for two years, I can’t pay my bills and…. My depression is because of CFS. My CFS is not because my depression. First came CFS, then caem teh depression. It goes away. But time and again, it comes to visit….

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