What You Need To Know About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

May 12 is the International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CIND). These illnesses include myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), fibromyalgia (FM), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). 

Almost all of us feel tired at some point or another but the tiredness felt by people with chronic fatigue syndrome is unusual. It is persistent exhaustion accompanied by debilitating flu-like symptoms.[1] Over 200,000 people in the UK suffer from this perplexing disease. Occurring more in women than in men, chronic fatigue syndrome can affect one’s quality of life; the severity of which depends on one’s presenting signs and symptoms.[2]

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a condition that causes long-term disability to young people (it usually affects people in their 20s and early 40s). It was first identified in 1980s as an illness characterized by chronic and severe fatigue, one that last for over six months.

Aside from the fatigue that last for over six months, people with CFS are also reported to complain about loss of memory or concentration, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and armpit, unexplained muscle pain, joint pain without swelling or redness, and headache.

CFS is a perplexing disease because doctors still don’t know what exactly causes it. However, many medical experts believe that it can be brought about by infection. A good percentage of CFS patients had an infection that can be associated with the disease. Experts also believed that there’s a correlation between the severity of the infection and the chance of a person to develop CFS.[3]

Common Misunderstandings About CFS

Although CFS is no longer new, there are still a lot of misconceptions about this disease including:

    1. CFS is a disease that only affects white, affluent women.
      Most visits to CFS specialists are not covered by insurance. Hence, only those with the money can afford to see them. Statistics have shown though that there is a high prevalence of this condition among minorities as well as those of lower income and educational level.[4] 
    2. CFS only affect people with Type A personality.
      Doctors still don’t know what exactly causes CFS although they believe that certain infection can trigger their development.

      There is also no proof that can support the claim that CFS only affect people with Type A personality. Infections that can trigger CFS are brought about by pathogens which are not personality specific. 
    3. CFS is a psychiatric disorder.
      A psychiatric disorder is a condition that affects one’s way of thinking, mood, and/or behavior.[5] This is not the case of CFS.

      Studies on patients with CFS revealed that many of them have abnormal immune, endocrine, and nervous system functions. They are shown to have B-cell abnormalities, elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines, and abnormal cardiac function.[6] 
    4. Only adults can have CFS.
      Children can also have CFS. In fact, in 1985 there was an outbreak of CFS that took place in NY. CFS in children is different from CFS in adults. It affects both boys and girls equally and may occur following mononucleosis. 
    5. There is no way to manage CFS.
      There is still no cure for CFS but there are ways to manage its symptoms. These include hypnotherapy, coaching, and emotional freedom technique (EFT).

CFS Breakthroughs

Over the years of research, there has been two major breakthroughs in the study of CFS. One is discovered by researchers in Norway and the other one was from a research team in Australia.

Possible Cure for CFS

In 2015, researchers from Norway have been doing trials for a drug that is typically used to get rid of white blood cells in people with lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis. Two-thirds of the people who took this drug experienced major remission of the CFS symptoms.[7], [8]

The study doesn’t just lead to the possible cure of the debilitating disease but also suggest that the antibodies originally produced to fight off infection may play a role in the development of the CFS symptoms.

Core Pathology in CFS

This year, a research team from Australia has discovered that there were several mutations occurring in patients with CFS. These mutations affect the ion channels that allow calcium into the natural killer (NK) cells. Since these ion channels can be found in different areas, it makes sense why CFS also impact different functions of the body.[9]

How Hypnotherapy, Coaching, and EFT Can Help

There is still no cure for chronic fatigue syndrome but there are ways to manage the symptoms.

Hypnotherapy

There is a growing body of evidence showing that there are psychological factors that may play a role in the development of chronic fatigue syndrome. Some patients with CFS associate a particular activity in the exacerbation of symptoms and hence, avoid them. This is where cognitive behavioral therapy becomes helpful. It helps change the view of the patient on certain things, encouraging them to do more  activities that can help in alleviating the symptoms.

Hypnotherapy makes use of some concepts and techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy. It has been shown to help patients with CFS with its ability to control the pain, fatigue, and the myalgia. It’s an effective coping technique that helps improve the patient’s overall wellbeing.[10]

Coaching

A special type of coaching called Persona Coaching System (PCS) can benefit patients with CFS as it provides users with smart reasoning and feedback to develop or maintain a healthy behavior. This matters most for those suffering from chronic conditions that do not have a cure. Through intensive support in daily life, pain can be alleviated and a healthy pattern of activity can be established.[11]

EFT

Emotional freedom technique is a tool often referred to as ‘emotional acupuncture without the needles.’[12] It is believed to work well with patients with chronic conditions like CFS as it helps send calming signals all throughout the body. It turns off the fight or flight response of the body and reduce the cortisol level. Reduction in stress and anxiety can impact the body in several areas including the hormonal, neurological, and physical aspects. This, in turn, helps the body in functioning better.

Studies show that clinical EFT can help in alleviating some physical symptoms like pain. In one study, it shows that veterans experienced a significant drop in physical pain after EFT, as were patients suffering from fibromyalgia.[13]

If you’re suffering from unusual fatigue for six months or longer, I can help you. I’m a certified hypnotherapist in London who combines techniques of hypnotherapy and coaching in alleviating symptoms of chronic conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome.

Published by Hypnosis in London on 8 May, 2017, written by Malminder Gill.

Image: Todd Ehlers
References:
[1],[3] Marturana, Amy. “The Difference Between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome And Just Being Really Tired All The Time”. SELF. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
[2] “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – NHS Choices”. Nhs.uk. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
[4] Jason LA, et al. “A Community-Based Study Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
[5] “What Is A Mental Or Psychiatric Disorder?”. Verywell. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
[6] “Facts & Myths About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – Prohealth”. Prohealth.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
[7] “Chronic Fatigue Breakthrough Offers Hope For Millions”. New Scientist. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
[8] Mensah FKF, et al. “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome And The Immune System: Where Are We Now? – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
[9] Johnson, Cort. “Major Breakthrough In Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)? Aussies Believe Biomarker Found – Health Rising”. Health Rising. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
[10]Gregg, V. “Hypnosis In Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.”. PubMed Central (PMC). N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
[11] Hermens, H. et al. “Personalized Coaching Systems To Support Healthy Behavior In People With Chronic Conditions”. N.p., 2017. Print.
[12]”EFT For ME And CFS”. Youwellbeing.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.
[13] Clinical EFT As An Evidence-Based Practice For The Treatment Of Psychological And Physiological Conditions. 1st ed. National Institute for Integrative Healthcare, 2017. Web. 8 May 2017.