We don’t understand enough about the causes of chronic fatigue syndrome yet so unfortunately there is no cure. There is no specific medicine or drug to treat CFS but medicines such as painkillers can help relieve muscle pain, joint pain and headaches.
Treatment generally focuses on reducing the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome by creating a healthy lifestyle and getting enough rest so that your exhaustion is managed.
Your clinician should support you in developing a regular, gentle exercise routine, taking rest (but encouraging you to avoid too much rest), eating a balanced diet and may even suggest you undertake Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This is a talking therapy provided by a psychologist which helps people with long term conditions to cope with the stress and pain they experience on a regular basis.
CBT is often used with people who have cancer, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. It can be quite successful in helping those living with CFS by reducing worry which can have a negative impact on all aspects of life, including sleep. It can also help you think differently and find enjoyment in life. This does not mean to say that the condition is mental or ‘all in your head’, but that the mind is a powerful tool in dealing with how we think and feel. Your therapist can help you find practical ways to cope with your condition, so you can live well.
To find out more about CBT and if it is right for you, discuss it with your GP or read more on the NHS website
Exercise for chronic fatigue syndrome
People with CFS often feel that they are too tired to exercise, or that the fatigue they feel after an exercise session is so great they are unable to keep doing it. However, exercise for chronic fatigue syndrome is really important and can make a big difference to the way those living with the condition feel day to day.
You may be offered Graded Exercise Therapy (GET), which is a structured exercise programme carried out by a specialist, aiming to gradually increase how long you can carry out a physical activity. This could initially be as simple as sitting up in bed, or taking a short walk. Your trainer will advise the best plan for you, taking into account the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome that you experience.