We examined whether fatigue was associated with greater symptomatic burden and functional impairment in college students with depressive symptoms.
Using data from the self-report Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), we stratified a group of 287 students endorsing significant symptoms of depression (BDI score ≥13) into 3 levels: no fatigue, mild fatigue, or moderate/severe fatigue. We then compared the 3 levels of fatigue across a battery of psychiatric and functional outcome measures.
Approximately 87% of students endorsed at least mild fatigue. Students with moderate/severe fatigue had significantly greater depressive symptom severity compared with those with mild or no fatigue and scored higher on a suicide risk measure than those with mild fatigue. Students with severe fatigue evidenced greater frequency and intensity of anxiety than those with mild or no fatigue. Reported cognitive and functional impairment increased significantly as fatigue worsened.
Depressed college students with symptoms of fatigue demonstrated functional impairment and symptomatic burden that worsened with increasing levels of fatigue. Assessing and treating symptoms of fatigue appears warranted within this population.