Early adverse experience and risk for chronic fatigue syndrome: Results from a population-based study

Christine Heim, Dieter Wagner, Elizabeth Maloney, Dimitris A. Papanicolaou, Laura Solomon, James F. Jones, Elizabeth R. Unger, William C. Reeves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

166 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Context: Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an important public health problem. The causes of CFS are unknown and effective prevention strategies remain elusive. A growing literature suggests that early adverse experience increases the risk for a range of negative health outcomes, including fatiguing illnesses. Identification of developmental risk factors for CFS is critical to inform pathophysiological research and devise targets for primary prevention. Objective: To examine the relationship between early adverse experience and risk for CFS in a population-based sample of clinically confirmed CFS cases and nonfatigued control subjects. Design, Setting, and Participants: A case-control study of 43 cases with current CFS and 60 nonfatigued controls identified from a general population sample of 56 146 adult residents from Wichita, Kan. Main Outcome Measures: Self-reported childhood trauma (sexual, physical, and emotional abuse and emotional and physical neglect) and psychopathology (depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder) by CFS status. Results: The CFS cases reported significantly higher levels of childhood trauma and psychopathology compared with the controls. Exposure to childhood trauma was associated with a 3- to 8-fold increased risk for CFS across different trauma types. There was a graded relationship between the degree of trauma exposure and CFS risk. Childhood trauma was associated with greater CFS symptom severity and with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. The risk for CFS conveyed by childhood trauma increased with the presence of concurrent psychopathology. Conclusions: This study provides evidence of increased levels of multiple types of childhood trauma in a population-based sample of clinically confirmed CFS cases compared with nonfatigued controls. Our results suggest that childhood trauma is an important risk factor for CFS. This risk was in part associated with altered emotional state. Studies scrutinizing the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms that translate childhood adversity into CFS risk may provide direct targets for the early prevention of CFS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1258-1266
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of General Psychiatry
Volume63
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

Fingerprint

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Population
Wounds and Injuries
Psychopathology
Fatigue
Syndrome
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders
Anxiety
Depression
Trauma
Childhood
Multiple Trauma
Primary Prevention

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Heim, C., Wagner, D., Maloney, E., Papanicolaou, D. A., Solomon, L., Jones, J. F., ... Reeves, W. C. (2006). Early adverse experience and risk for chronic fatigue syndrome: Results from a population-based study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 63(11), 1258-1266. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.63.11.1258
Heim, Christine ; Wagner, Dieter ; Maloney, Elizabeth ; Papanicolaou, Dimitris A. ; Solomon, Laura ; Jones, James F. ; Unger, Elizabeth R. ; Reeves, William C. / Early adverse experience and risk for chronic fatigue syndrome : Results from a population-based study. In: Archives of General Psychiatry. 2006 ; Vol. 63, No. 11. pp. 1258-1266.
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Heim, C, Wagner, D, Maloney, E, Papanicolaou, DA, Solomon, L, Jones, JF, Unger, ER & Reeves, WC 2006, 'Early adverse experience and risk for chronic fatigue syndrome: Results from a population-based study', Archives of General Psychiatry, vol. 63, no. 11, pp. 1258-1266. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.63.11.1258

Early adverse experience and risk for chronic fatigue syndrome : Results from a population-based study. / Heim, Christine; Wagner, Dieter; Maloney, Elizabeth; Papanicolaou, Dimitris A.; Solomon, Laura; Jones, James F.; Unger, Elizabeth R.; Reeves, William C.

In: Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 63, No. 11, 01.01.2006, p. 1258-1266.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - Early adverse experience and risk for chronic fatigue syndrome

T2 - Results from a population-based study

AU - Heim, Christine

AU - Wagner, Dieter

AU - Maloney, Elizabeth

AU - Papanicolaou, Dimitris A.

AU - Solomon, Laura

AU - Jones, James F.

AU - Unger, Elizabeth R.

AU - Reeves, William C.

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N2 - Context: Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an important public health problem. The causes of CFS are unknown and effective prevention strategies remain elusive. A growing literature suggests that early adverse experience increases the risk for a range of negative health outcomes, including fatiguing illnesses. Identification of developmental risk factors for CFS is critical to inform pathophysiological research and devise targets for primary prevention. Objective: To examine the relationship between early adverse experience and risk for CFS in a population-based sample of clinically confirmed CFS cases and nonfatigued control subjects. Design, Setting, and Participants: A case-control study of 43 cases with current CFS and 60 nonfatigued controls identified from a general population sample of 56 146 adult residents from Wichita, Kan. Main Outcome Measures: Self-reported childhood trauma (sexual, physical, and emotional abuse and emotional and physical neglect) and psychopathology (depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder) by CFS status. Results: The CFS cases reported significantly higher levels of childhood trauma and psychopathology compared with the controls. Exposure to childhood trauma was associated with a 3- to 8-fold increased risk for CFS across different trauma types. There was a graded relationship between the degree of trauma exposure and CFS risk. Childhood trauma was associated with greater CFS symptom severity and with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. The risk for CFS conveyed by childhood trauma increased with the presence of concurrent psychopathology. Conclusions: This study provides evidence of increased levels of multiple types of childhood trauma in a population-based sample of clinically confirmed CFS cases compared with nonfatigued controls. Our results suggest that childhood trauma is an important risk factor for CFS. This risk was in part associated with altered emotional state. Studies scrutinizing the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms that translate childhood adversity into CFS risk may provide direct targets for the early prevention of CFS.

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