Thursday, April 25, 2013

Extreme Fatigue in Teens May Be Pathological Condition

“Extreme fatigue that continues even after rest and interferes with adolescents’ ability to participate academically, socially, or at home is a pathological condition," but it is a condition that is often overlooked and untreated because it is not viewed as serious enough to warrant medical attention. That is a key finding of a study by Kathleen Merikangas, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health and colleagues to be reported in the May American Journal of Psychiatry, which will be available May 1. The researchers surveyed more than 10,000 adolescents across the United States as part of the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement and found that 3% said they had been experiencing extreme fatigue for at least three months and that getting rest did not relieve the condition. Of the teens reporting extreme prolonged fatigue, more than 50% also reported "severe" or "very severe" difficulties in school, family, or social situations. Despite these problems, only 14% of the respondents had received any treatment for the condition.

In addition, of those reporting extreme fatigue, about 50% also had a depressive or anxiety disorder, and these teens were more disabled and more likely to receive treatment for their disorders than their peers with fatigue only or with anxiety or depression only. However, since the teens with persistent fatigue but without comorbid depression or anxiety exhibited substantial impairment and "a striking degree of disability," the researchers said, this suggests "that fatigue states are themselves an important clinical entity."

For information about treating psychiatric illness in youngsters, see American Psychiatric Publishing's Concise Guide to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Fourth Edition

(image: fotofreak/


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