Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS, is a debilitating disorder that affects at least one million people in the U.S. Its symptoms include profound physical and mental fatigue (characteristically made worse by exertion), muscle and joint pain, disturbed sleep and both concentration and memory problems. There is no definitive cause for CFS, but researchers now say they have identified two treatments most likely to lead to recovery.
Scientists at the University of London say cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET), as supplements to specialist medical care, increase the likelihood of recovery from CFS three-fold compared to other treatments studied.
Information on the research trial, carried out in collaboration with researchers from King’s College London, the University of Oxford and the Medical Research Council (MRC), was published in Psychological Medicine.
Patients in the 640 involved in the study were classed as recovered if they no longer met several criteria for ill health one year after the trial, including not suffering from significant fatigue or physical disability and no longer meeting diagnostic criteria for CFS. Patients also had to rate themselves as being “much” or “very much better” in their overall health.
The findings showed that those who received CBT or GET, in addition to care from a specialist were three times more likely to meet the criteria for recovery than those receiving specialist care alone.
Researchers involved in the study say they’re encouraged to find that recovery is possible for CFS.