In some cases,
chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) develops after an
illness such as
mononucleosis (mono) or
flu, or after a period of unusual stress. But it may
also develop without warning, even if you have not been sick.
fatigue may come upon you gradually or quite suddenly. Because fatigue can be
vague and can be caused by many things, you might not pay attention to the
problem for several weeks or months. It is hard to say what is normal with CFS
because the diagnosis often is not clear for some time.
- Symptoms are worse at the
- Later, you may feel better for a time and then feel
worse again. Or, your symptoms may disappear entirely. Many people improve in a
year or two and do not have a relapse. Some people continue to have severe
fatigue and other symptoms for many years.
Some people find the fatigue, pain, and thinking problems
caused by CFS greatly hamper their lives, but other people are not nearly as
- Most people are still able to perform some of
their usual activities at home and work, but they often are unusually tired
after they do them. People often have to cut down on social and recreational
activities to save their energy for work and family.
- Other people
have trouble doing most or all of their daily activities, including work and
the basic chores of daily living. They may have to carefully plan how to best
use their energy.
- People who are most severely affected by CFS may
have difficulty getting out of bed and may require help with basic activities
such as dressing, eating, and bathing.
Dealing with depression
More than half of people with CFS have
depression at some point. Here are some important
facts to keep in mind:
- Your mind and body are connected and influence
each other. Physical illnesses can be made worse-or better-by feelings and
attitudes, and vice versa.
- Your fatigue is real, not imaginary. It
is your body's reaction to a complex interaction of both emotional and physical
factors. To successfully manage your CFS and get back to normal, you need to
pay careful attention to how what you are doing and feeling affects your
- CFS is often made worse by depression or anxiety. Like
any other medical illness, these conditions may need to be treated. Helping
your depression or anxiety can, in turn, help your other CFS symptoms. This
does not mean that your symptoms are all in your head. It does mean that your
mental health can affect your physical health.
If you have CFS and feel depressed, talk to your doctor.
Medicine for depression may help you feel better and help you cope with the
stresses of having a chronic illness.
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