Chronic fatigue syndrome - also known as the "yuppie flu" - has a high correlation to depression and attempted suicides, according to a study released at a medical conference here.
The study presented at the American Federation for Clinical Research, which met here over the weekend, reported that at least 15 percent of 86 individuals with symptoms of the syndrome had at least once tried to commit suicide.All 13 of the patients also met criteria for major depression, which can be a serious problem in the syndrome.
Study leader Thomas Lane said the suicide attempts usually occurred before the patients' first episode of the fatigue disorder.
Lane said he believed diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome helped patients escape the stigma of psychiatric illness and reduced the chance of future suicide attempts.
"The belief that their illness is not psychiatric may preserve self-esteem, reduce the feelings of guilt and worthlessness so common in depressive disorders, and thereby prevent suicide attempts," Lane said.
Chronic fatigue syndrome patients generally complain of a disabling weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a variety of other mental and physical problems.
No cause has been found, although physicians have probed possible links to hormonal changes, viral infections and immunological disorders.
The disorder became known as the "yuppie syndrome" or "yuppie flu" because it primarily affected young, upwardly mobile adults.
Lane said many researchers now are investigating connections between the symptoms and psychiatric illnesses.