According to an article published in NPR, debates Chronic Fatigue Syndrome began about three decades ago, but its cause is remains known. Over all these years, researchers have identified various brain, immune system and energy metabolism irregularities involved with the syndrome. And even though the precise cause remains unidentified, much progress has been made about its treatment. One such treatment area is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). A study published in The Lancet this year found that talk therapy and exercises offered relief to some patients.
The Lancet Study And Results
The study was conducted on over 600 patients who were suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. These patients were assigned to different treatments and received medical care for symptoms like pain, insomnia and anxiety.
These patients were divided into three groups
- One group got counseled about how to pace activities.
- Another took part in an exercise program.
- Third received the cognitive behavioral talk therapy.
- The therapy and the exercise group improved the most, reporting less fatigue, insomnia and anxiety.
Highlights of the CBT and Exercise combination therapy – based on the study it was found that
- Patients do best when cognitive behavior therapy is also combined with gradually increased exercise.
- Patients need to begin to push themselves in the face of their fatigue.
- Patients should start with mild, gentle exercise like clearing the table, doing the dishes, or taking the dog for a short walk.
- Patients should slowly build up to longer and more frequent walks.
Dr. Lucinda Bateman, a doctor at the Fatigue Consultation Clinic in Salt Lake City who specializes in chronic fatigue syndrome is skeptical about the Lancet study. She pointed out that the patients only improved moderately with the use of CBT and exercises. Their improvement is not much different than those who are counseled about pacing themselves.
Dr. Bateman’s Advice for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Patients should pace themselves, and try to do only as many activities as they can manage.
- Some patients get caught in a “push and crash” cycle, which should be avoided.
- When the patients start overdoing the physical exercises, their level of activity often comes to a crashing end and patients can relapse dramatically and even become bedridden for several days or longer.
- Also an issue with the CBT’s implication is that chronic fatigue syndrome is psychosomatic.
The exact cause of chronic fatigue is still not known, says Bateman. She, like many other health care professionals who treat patients, is waiting eagerly for the day when science will pinpoint the cause of this syndrome and its symptoms.
Listed below are a few clinical trials investigating new treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
- Double Blind Trial of Duloxetine in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Study of Ampligen in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Behavioral Insomnia Therapy With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome