Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Counselling
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition centred around symptoms of severe fatigue and exhaustion. It is also commonly known as ME, which stands for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis with the myalgia meaning muscle pain and the encephalomyelitis referring to an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Although both terms are used interchangeably there has been considerable debate amongst sufferers and medical experts as to whether these terms refer to the same or differing conditions. Approximately 250,000 people in the UK suffer with CFS. Although anyone can potentially suffer from this condition, CFS is more common in women and usually develops in the early 20s to mid-40s age groups.
Though the symptoms of CFS will inevitably vary from person to person the condition is often characterised by feelings of intense fatigue and exhaustion, along with difficulties involving memory, concentration and a general feeling of discomfort or lack of well-being. Many of these symptoms overlap with those of depression including poor concentration, extreme fatigue, and sleep disturbance; however, it is the prominence of the physical symptoms of CFS that separates diagnosis. If you suffer with CFS there will often be times when these symptoms diminish and you are able to enjoy everyday activities, but this can often be matched by times when the symptoms severely affect your everyday life, health and happiness. There is currently no cure for CFS, and so, consequently, treatment is primarily aimed at managing symptoms and helping the sufferer to adapt to daily life. Listed below are some of the main symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. Not everyone will experience each of these symptoms, and there maybe a host of other symptoms that are not listed here. These key symptoms must have been experienced for at least six months and be different to simply being ‘tired’.
How do I know if I have chronic fatigue syndrome? Signs include:
- Severe fatigue that does not go away with sleep or rest
- Muscular pain, joint pain or severe headaches
- Physical or mental exertion makes symptoms worse
- Sore throat
- Impairment in short-term memory and concentration
- Painful lymph nodes
- Stomach pain and other problems such as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and nausea
- Sleeping problems such as insomnia or unrefreshing sleep
- Sensitivity to light, loud noise, alcohol and certain foods
- Skin sensations
- Psychological difficulties such as depression, anxiety, irritability and panic attacks
- Less common symptoms such as dizziness, excess sweating, balance problems, and difficulty controlling body temperature.
How can counselling help with chronic fatigue syndrome?
Although no current cure exists for CFS, chronic fatigue syndrome counsellors have proven instrumental in helping individuals manage their symptoms and overcome the psychological and emotional problems that surround this condition. In particular, feelings of stress, anger, fear, frustration and powerlessness can all worsen symptoms and lead to a vicious cycle of misery and ill health. Counselling and psychotherapy can break these cycles by tackling these complex and powerful emotions and develop effective coping strategies to change the way you think, feel and behave. By identifying with your therapist the thoughts and behaviours that lead to your unhappiness, you can begin to increase your sense of control over your condition and manage your symptoms more effectively. Your therapist can help you to remain on track with goals including lifestyle changes and teach you relaxation techniques in order to overcome the painful and uncomfortable aspects of CFS. Your therapist may use a specific approach such as cognitive behavioural therapy which has proven effective in reducing the stress surrounding CFS, or combine several approaches in order to tailor the therapy to your specific needs.
Treatment for chronic fatigue at Harley Therapy™, London
Therapists at Harley Therapy are able to support individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis, and can help to improve your physical and emotional well-being. In addition, our in-house psychiatrist is able to help you with diagnosis, reports, treatment plan and medication for CFS.
Extra reading on chronic fatigue syndrome
The following books provide a helpful approach to living with chronic fatigue syndrome:
- 'Recover Your Energy' (2009) by Olive Hickman
- 'Beating Chronic Fatigue - Your Step-by-Step Guide to Complete Recovery' (2010) by Kristina Downing-Orr
- 'Why me?' (2009) by Alex Howard