Purpose: To investigate indicators of fatigue, including depression, sense of powerlessness, and body aches, and to examine differences between symptomatic and asymptomatic women.
Design: Descriptive, comparative analysis.
Methods: Investigators evaluated fatigue, depression, sense of powerlessness, and body aches for two groups of women in a small, rural community. Participants in one group (n=20) reported subjective experiences of fatigue and the other group (n=20) did not. No participant had a recognizable disease or physiologic alteration that would account for her fatigue. Symptoms in groups were compared using t tests with Bonferroni adjustment.
Results: Although the asymptomatic group members were younger, the groups did not differ in ethnicity, mean weight, number of medications taken, or normality of laboratory values. Women who reported feeling fatigued also had significantly higher scores on the depression and fatigue subscales of the fatigue instrument and significantly lower scores on the power instrument. For participants reporting fatigue, fatigue correlated with depression and depression negatively correlated with sense of power. Data did not indicate how fatigue and depression, or depression and sense of power, are interrelated.
Conclusions: Findings provide support for the importance of acknowledging fatigued women's often readily dismissed complaints not only of fatigue, but of depression and sense of powerlessness, and for conducting further research regarding these complaints in women with no objective indicators of fatigue.