is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)?
These are poorly understood conditions that are characterised by
debilitating exhaustion. The condition usually impairs normal
day-to-day living and many sufferers find it disabling to the degree of
Depending where you
are in the world, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is also known as
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) or Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS). ME is
seen as a more severe form of CFS in the UK. It mainly affects young
adults, but children and elderly people are also affected.
The cognitive problems
associated with CFS/ME can hamper speech, thought flow and short-term
memory. The condition often causes sufferers often to display flu-type
symptoms. The severity of symptoms and disability vary from person to
person, but CFS/ME is known not to be contagious.
Who does it affect?
CFS affects 1 in 1000 people in the UK. It appears to affect women more
than men: 85% of those with CFS are female. However, this figure may be
inaccurate when you consider men are less upfront than women about
acknowledging their symptoms and seeking professional help.
and overachievers who drive themselves to the point of burnout are
highly susceptible to CFS as are those with a history of allergies. CFS
rarely affects children under 12, but it is more common amongst
So What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the Causes of ME?
The cause of CFS/ME still remains unknown by the medical profession,
which leaves the question - 'what is chronic fatigue syndrome and M.E.
largely unanswered, but it can be a follow-on condition of a viral
infection. Glandular Fever is sometimes a trigger point.
we do know is that prolonged emotional, psychological or physical
stress prior to the onset of the illness is common amongst sufferers.
For example, bereavement, relationship problems or break-up, severe
work related stress or redundancy can weaken the immune system to a
point that viruses and CFS/ME can take hold.
is suspected that CFS/ME is related to disorders that affect the
immune, hormonal and nervous systems, but there's no definitive
scientific evidence of this. But CFS/ME cannot be passed from person to
What's been tried to fix it?
A graded exercise program is often suggested as an approach to CFS/ME.
But it is a controversial approach that often proves impractical for
sufferers, but some do benefit.
Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an approach that helps some understand how
their thinking affects their health and wellbeing. But this is also a
controversial approach that fosters the view that CFS/ME is an
'all-in-the-head' condition that needs a psychiatric or psychological
Painkillers, antibiotics and
antidepressants are often prescribed, but these are not long term
solutions and can often lead to dependency.
Therapies and Counselling prove to be popular amongst sufferers,
especially when their condition is not taken seriously by the medical
profession and seem to have more answers to the question: what is
chronic fatigue syndrome and M.E.?
History of CFS/ME
In the past the medical profession answered the question 'what is
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis' by suggesting
it was a malingering 'all-in-the-mind' hypochondriac condition more
related to depression that anything else. But today most experts agree
that CFS/ME is a distinct illness with physical symptoms. However,
CFS/ME still remains controversial and many Doctors still don't
recognise it as a real condition, which often makes getting a diagnosis