Subjective impairment of memory and concentration is a frequent complaint in sufferers from chronic fatigue. To study this, 65 general practice attenders identified as having chronic fatigue were administered a structured psychiatric interview and a brief screening battery of cognitive tests. Subjective cognitive impairment was strongly related to psychiatric disorder, especially depressed mood, but not fatigue, anxiety, or objective performance. Simple tests of attention and concentration showed some impairment but this was influenced by both fatigue and depression. Subjects with high levels of fatigue performed less well on a memory task requiring cognitive effort, even in the absence of depression. There was no evidence for mental fatiguability. The relationship between depression, fatigue, and cognitive function requires further research.
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