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CBT for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is also often referred to as M.E. which stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis. CFS is characterised by extreme fatigue, post-exertional malaise, and feeling generally unwell. The causes for CFS are not fully understood and possible causes include viral infections, immune disturbances, or disturbances to the central nervous system. As with any human experience CFS has a psychological component, which means that psychological techniques can form part of a treatment package for CFS. Currently recognised interventions for CFS include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), pacing and graded activity, and graded exercise therapy.

Treatment guides

The PACE trial was a large-scale study comparing CBT, graded exercise therapy (GET), and standard medical care for CFS. It found that CBT and GET were more effective for CFS than standard care alone.

  • Larun, L., Brurberg, K. G., Odgaard‐Jensen, J., & Price, J. R. (2016). Exercise therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (2). download archived copy
  • Marques, M. M., De Gucht, V., Gouveia, M. J., Leal, I., & Maes, S. (2015). Differential effects of behavioral interventions with a graded physical activity component in patients suffering from Chronic Fatigue (Syndrome): An updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical psychology review40, 123-137. download archived copy
  • White, P. D., Goldsmith, K., Johnson, A. L., Chalder, T., & Sharpe, M. (2013). Recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome after treatments given in the PACE trial. Psychological medicine, 43(10), 2227-2235. download archived copy

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