Question

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

How can I care for someone with chronic fatigue syndrome?

A Answers (2)

  • The duration and severity of symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome differ with each individual, so it is often difficult to know what someone needs. In fact, symptoms often lessen or dissipate on their own. But if someone you know may have chronic fatigue syndrome, it is important that you help them pace themselves and maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can help someone you know by offering motivation to exercise moderately, eat nutritiously, and avoid harmful substances. A little emotional support can go a long way in caring for someone with chronic fatigue syndrome, as sufferers often feel guilt, isolation, anger, and anxiousness. You can help by offering to discuss problems or share ideas with them, as well as referring them to a therapist if necessary.

  • AJacob Teitelbaum, Integrative Medicine, answered

    There are two key things to remember:

     

    First, CFS is not a disease of lazy people but more typically that of overachievers who have taken care of everybody but themselves, and then burnt out. They often need time to recover before they can return to school, work, or other normal life activities. Unfortunately, some physicians beleive the illness is not real and aren’t aware that effective treatments exist. This was the case in the past when physicians didn’t acknowledge the existence of illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.  If a physician implies that this is his or her view, seek out a new physician who understands CFS and knows how to treat it. Two good resources for this are the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers and the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine.

     

    Second, a key rule is that if you do not take of yourself, you'll burnout and be useless to the person with CFS. Because of this, help when it feels good to do so, and graciously say no when it does not.
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