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ICF: It may not be depression


disjecta membra
Los Angeles, CA
Just something I wanted to get out there as it's been rattling around in the back of my brain for some time.

We so often critique overly-broad definitions of ME/CFS that sweep up fatigued people without "true," Canadian Consensus-defined ME/CFS, into the same wastebasket with us. Very often we describe this problem this way: "Those (other) people are probably just depressed!"

This doesn't strike me as very fair to people who have Idiopathic Chronic Fatigue - i.e., chronic fatigue (the symptom,) that does not *seem* to be explained by any biomedical findings, but which doesn't fit the CCC either. True, this kind of fatigue could be caused by depression. But it could be caused by lots of other things too.

Perhaps some of those those people who have idiopathic chronic fatigue do have some "recognized" disease or condition that simply hasn't been diagnosed properly - it could be a rare disease, or the right tests haven't been run (which is all too common.) Or they could have some other unknown or emerging disease causing the fatigue.

I think it would be better to get in the habit of saying "depression or some other fatiguing condition" rather than just "depression" when we talk about the problem of using over-broad definitions of ME/CFS.

Those of us who fit the CCC to a tee have a pretty raw deal in the medical world; in a way it's going to get even worse for the people who have ICF - especially once we home in on the causes of "true" ME/CFS. Then the ICF patients will truly be left out in the cold. And we sure wouldn't do them justice if we turn around and give them the same treatment that we've received - assuming they all have a form of "depression" without looking more closely to see if what they have actually fits the clinical description of depression, and to see what else might be going on with their bodies.


Senior Member
I've always thought the same. It's sort of hard to think of any condition as non-biomedical.

Anyway, I like to think that once this is all over (and I believe it will be in the coming years), there will be enough of us around to fight for proper treatment of those who got left out of the loop. The way I see it, it's as though we've all been to Vietnam together or something - I mean really strong bonds.


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australia (brisbane)
I dont think of depression as a disease, i think of it like a symptom. Any chronic illness there is going to be a higher rate of depression as their function is alot lower then they want or are use to, even idiopathic chronic fatigue could be depressing but it would only be a symptom of having the fatigue. I think depression was made an illness to fit the drugs that are prescibed. Rape victims etc can suffer depression but i think its a symptom of what they are going or gone through, its not the cause. Then there are those poor soles who are depressed for no known reason, if an ssri fixes their problem then they should be diagnosed with hyposerotonin syndrome or something and if cymbalta works then maybe diagnosed with noradrenaline/serotonin hyposecretion and depression is a symptom of it. Depression is a crap word like CFS, its just one symptom. And if u have ever heard non depressed people hear about someone who is diagnosed with depression, they cant distinguish between depression and being psychotic and start saying there crazy and theres a big difference between the 2. u can be psychotic without being depressed and vice versa and u can have both together. I think the community as a whole, really have no idea and alot of illnesses are stigmitised. If u have cancer or heart disease your a fighter, if u have depression or some other neurological condition your crazy. Its a strange world with narrow minds. Wow now thats a rant.



Senior Member
Hasn't there been research that viruses and inflammation can cause depression?
I think I remember reading that HHV-6a can cause depression, and so many people with ME/CFS have HHV-6a.

And sleep dysfunction, I read that a lot of "depressed" individuals also get no stage 3/4 sleep and too much REM sleep (interestingly, I remember an article that studied women with severe PMS/PMDD also had the same sleep dysfunction, not getting any stage 3/4 sleep and excessive REM! HORMONE connection anyone?!?!?) Maybe they're depressed and exhausted because of that as well?

I wonder how many people out there who have been labeled as being depressed, and do not respond (or respond terribly) to the multiple Antidepressants shoved on them, actually have viruses, inflammation, neuroendocrine dysfunction, etc.

Sadly, it's not like when a person walks into a doctor's or shrinks office and complains of feeling "exhausted" and "sad/depressed", that they will be tested for a slew of pathogens and referred for a sleep study and have hormone testing. Hell, even when ME/CFS is suspected most people can't get those things without begging and getting sent to 10 different specialists!

It would be very devastating for ICF patients to just be labeled "depressed" if they don't fit a certain criteria.