Therapy for chronic fatigue sufferers

Kathryn Shine

As what is chronic fatigue syndrome also known?

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), tapanui flu or yuppie flu.

Therapy and exercise have proved to be the most promising treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome.

New research published in the Journal Of The American Medical Association last week reviewed 44 studies on CFS to find the most successful treatment option.

The studies were grouped into six categories: behavioural, immunological, pharmacological, supplements, complementary/alternative and other interventions.

The researchers, from the University of York and the University of Texas, concluded there was insufficient evidence in all categories except behavioural.

Within that category, graded exercise therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy were found to produce the best results.

Graded exercise therapy refers to a program where the amount of exercise is slowly increased.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a widely practised form of psychotherapy which aims to turn a patient's way of thinking from negative and destructive to positive and constructive.

Further clinical studies on those therapies and other possible treatments for CFS were needed, the researchers said.

Research has not yet revealed was causes CFS but it often begins suddenly after an illness of surgery, accident or bereavement.

It appears that stress may trigger the disease and worsen the symptoms.

CFS is said to exist where a person suffers chronic tiredness over at least six months and cannot get relief through rest.

According to the ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Society of NSW, people with CFS experience a broad range of illness, ranging from nearly well to utter exhaustion, from mild discomfort to crippling pain.

Symptoms vary between individuals and also within the one person, from day to day and even hour to hour.

CFS can last up to seven years, but most people recover in two or three years. People who are diagnosed earlier often recover sooner.


  • Profound fatigue
  • Muscle and/or joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Impaired short-term memory or concentration
  • Circulatory and upper respiratory system problems
  • Bowel problems
  • Insomnia
  • Increased sensitivity to certain smells and foods
  • Anxiety and/or depression

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