Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Depression comparison chart.

Color coding highlights similarities in diagnoses. This comparison does not mean that everyone who is diagnosed with one of these, could be diagnosed with the other two. There are some people for whom only one diagnosis applies.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Must have chronic fatigue for at least 6 months, unexplained by any other cause, plus 4 of the other symptoms)


Diagnostic is currently going under revision. Widespread pain for at least 3 month in 11 of 18 specific tender points is official diagnoses, but many commonly associated symptoms are also used to aid in diagnoses.


Major Depressive Episode – from DSM-IV). 5 or more of the following must be present in a 2 week period, 1 must be depressed mood or loss of pleasure.

Chronic Fatigue for at least six months

Fatigue upon rising

*Often any fatigue will be considered as a symptoms of fibromyalgia

Fatigue or loss of energy

Post-exertional malaise lasting more than 24 hours

Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
This may be caused by fatigue, then attributed to “depression.”

Muscle pain

Widespread muscle pain for at least 3 months, plus pain in at least 11 of 18 specific tender points.

*Pain is often associated with, depression, although not official diagnostic symptom.

Multiple joint pain without swelling or redness

Impairment in short-term memory or concentration

Inability to concentrate

Diminished ability to concentrate or indecisiveness

*Depressed mood is often associated with CFS, although not in official diagnostic criteria

Anxiety and depression

Depressed mood

*Sleep problems is often associated with CFS, although not in official diagnostic criteria

Difficulty maintaining sleep

Insomnia or sleeping too much

Headaches of a new type, pattern, or severity

Chronic headaches


Other symptoms, more specific to each diagnosis

Sore throat

Abdominal pain

Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain

Tender lymph nodes

Dryness is mouth, nose and eyes

Psycho-motor agitation

Sensitive to cold or heat

Recurrent thoughts of death


Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt

Numbness or tingling in the fingers

Painful menstrual cramps

Irritable bowel syndrome


Links to pages with official diagnoses:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:




Notes on CFS, fibromyalgia, and depression diagnoses:

  1. These three disease are diagnosed by checklist of symptoms. There is no blood test, imaging or any sort of lab work in the diagnoses. Almost all of these symptoms are subjective (what the patient tells the doctor), not objective (what the doctor finds on lab exam or physical exam).

  2. Since these diagnoses only mean a patient has a collection of nonspecific symptoms which could have many different causes, the concept that each of these diseases represents a , single distinct disease, with a single cause is baseless.

  3. The fact that these diagnoses are often interchangeable, highlights the point that these diagnoses do not represent distinct disease entities.

  4. It takes very little research to discover these three diagnoses are treated with very similar or identical drugs (anti-depressants, pain killers and sleeping pills).


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