Many people go through periods of feeling tired or run-down; it is part of life. However, with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), exhaustion and other symptoms, which are not caused by any other known medical condition, can become extreme and persistent, despite rest and sleep.
You may not be aware that you have CFS, and continue to trudge through your days feeling mental and physical fatigue, taking time off work and having disturbed sleep. You may even be experiencing a more severe form of CFS where the simplest of tasks, such as taking a shower is extremely difficult. You might feel frustrated because you don't understand what is happening to you. People around you accuse you of being lazy and tell you to 'snap of it'. You may feel frightened and vulnerable and not in control of your life. Concerns around your job and earnings may feed into a cycle of anxiety and depression that can make the condition worse.
However, chronic fatigue syndrome is a serious and disabling condition. The cause of CFS is not known, and it can often be misdiagnosed as depression. It is therefore essential that you seek professional help to ensure that other treatable conditions have been ruled out.
Recognising chronic fatigue syndrome: what are the symptoms?
The symptoms you experience will depend on whether you have a mild, moderate, or severe form of CFS. As well as lingering exhaustion, symptoms may include:
- Muscular and joint pains (without redness or swelling)
- Poor memory and concentration, and reduced attention span
- Struggling to sleep, or sleeping too much
- Reoccurring sore throat and tenderness of the lymph glands
- Continual low mood and/or lingering sadness
If you have a severe form of CFS, you will struggle to carry out even minimal tasks, such as brushing your teeth. You may spend most of tour time in bed, and be very sensitive to noise and bright lights.
Treating chronic fatigue syndrome: what are the options available?
While there is no known cure for CFS, there are a range of effective treatments and approaches that can help ease your symptoms. These include:
- Different therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET)
- Management of nutrition and diet - a poor diet and inactivity are believed to make CFS worse.
- Complimentary treatments
- Management of sleep, rest and relaxation
Some doctors can be too quick to prescribe anti-depressants, or other drugs, in cases where medication should be a last resort. While depression often occurs in people with CFS, it is important to have a thorough, integrative assessment, before determining the right management plan for you.
If you believe you are suffering from CFS, please get in touch to arrange an initial assessment.