Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or ME is an illness that causes long-term fatigue. It is chronic because it can be a long-term and persistent condition. ME stands for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – Myalgic means aches and pains in the muscles and encephalomyelitis means an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
CFS/ME can affect anyone and estimates suggest that 1 in 300 people in the UK are affected with three times as many women suffering compared to men. Commonly it develops in the early twenties to mid-forties though it can develop in children between the ages of 13-15.
CFS is most likely to occur following a viral like illness and is characterized by profound and disabling fatigue for an extended period – usually over six months before the diagnosis is properly established. The overlap of many of the symptoms with depression, including dramatically diminished concentration, extreme fatigue, memory difficulties, and sleep disturbance has led some researchers to suggest this is just depression in a different guise – many others hotly dispute this argument.
Notable differences include the fact that physical symptoms seem to be a more prominent feature. There is often an overlap with other physical conditions – for example extensive, chronic and severe pain as characterized by Fibromyalgia, and bowel symptoms similar to those of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This practically means that Chronic Fatigue feels to many sufferers as too 'physical' a problem to be put down as 'just' depression.
This set of problems appears to be one of the most potent for producing conflict between patients and doctors. Our approach is that such clashes are rarely, if ever, helpful and we seek to develop a collaborative approach. It may mean that an individual has to try what they feel is going to help them in their own way and we support that. Terror over the onset of this frightening set of symptoms, and what the future holds, is a particular feature, and in itself, leads to pessimism which in turn, probably exacerbates symptoms.
Sufferers are particularly irritated over what can sometimes appear to be a view that develops in relatives and friends, given no physical marker, like a plaster cast for a broken arm, is visible, that this is either something the patient has brought on themselves, or is 'all in their mind'. We don't share this view, and adopt the various medical and psychological approaches that have been shown by research to be most effective.
Depending on the severity of illness, a variety of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome treatment options will be offered. Clinical Partners have a team of Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Psychotherapists who are trained treating people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / ME and they will be able to offer a full assessment, diagnosis and bespoke treatment programme.
By calling our Admissions Counsellor on 0203 326 9160 you will be able to talk in confidence about your situation and we can recommend a specialist to assist you for CFS support.