TGI Friday! Our weekly round-up of research abstracts, 9 March 2012

March 9, 2012

This is our regular round-up of research abstracts that so far have no appeared on the MEA website.

Clin Rheumatol. 2011 Dec;30(12):1543-8. Epub 2011 May 17.

Self-esteem mediates the relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and depression in chronic fatigue syndrome.

Kempke S, Luyten P, Van Houdenhove B, Goossens L, Bekaert P, Van Wambeke P.
Department of Psychology, University of Leuven, Tiensestraat 102, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.


Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) often experience depression which may negatively affect prognosis and treatment outcome. Research has shown that depression in CFS is associated with maladaptive or self-critical perfectionism. However, currently, little is known about factors that may explain this relationship, but studies in nonclinical samples suggest that low self-esteem may be an important mediator of this relationship.

The present study therefore examined whether self-esteem mediated the cross-sectional association between maladaptive perfectionism and severity of depression in 192 patients meeting Centres for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for CFS.

Patients completed self-report measures of maladaptive perfectionism, self-esteem, depression, and fatigue. Regression analyses and more direct tests of indirect effects (i.e., the Sobel test and bootstrapping) were used to test for mediation. Congruent with expectations, we found that self-esteem fully mediated the relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and depression in CFS.

Findings from this study suggest that self-esteem may explain the link between maladaptive perfectionism and depression in CFS, which may have important implications for the treatment and prevention of depression in these patients.

Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2011 Oct-Dec;24(4):1017-25.

Psychophysical distress and alexithymic traits in chronic fatigue syndrome with and without comorbid depression.

Sepede G, Racciatti D, Gorgoretti V, Nacci M, Pizzigallo E, Onofrj M, Di Giannantonio M, Niolu C, Salerno RM, Gambi F.

Department of Neuroscience and Imaging, University of Chieti, Italy.


Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) often report a comorbid depressive disorder. Comorbid depression may negatively influence the long-term outcome of CFS therefore it must be correctly diagnosed and treated.

The aim of the present study is to provide a clinical and psychometric assessment of CFS patients with and without depressive features. A comparative analysis between 57 CFS subjects (CDC, 1994), 17 of whom with a comorbid depression, and 55 matched healthy volunteers was assessed to evaluate the presence of any psychophysical distress and alexithymic traits, by means of Symptom Checklist-90-R (SCL-90R) and Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20).

The severity of fatigue was also assessed in all CFS patients using the Fatigue Impact Scale (FIS). With regard to psychiatric comorbidity, the SCL-90R scores showed higher levels of somatic complaints in CFS patients than in healthy subjects, whereas augmented depressive and obsessive-compulsive symptoms were observed only in the depressed CFS subgroup.

When comparing the TAS-20 scores, we observed a selective impairment in the capacity to identify feelings and emotions, as measured by the Difficulty in Identifying Feelings subscale (DIF), non-depressed CFS patients showing an intermediate score between depressed CFS and healthy controls. Finally, in terms of FIS scores, a statistical trend versus a higher fatigue severity in depressed CFS patients, with respect to non-depressed ones, was observed.

In conclusion, comorbid depression in CFS significantly increased the level of psychophysical distress and the severity of alexithymic traits. These findings suggest an urgent need to address and treat depressive disorders in the clinical care of CFS cases, to improve social functioning and quality of life in such patients.

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