Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: When You’re More Than Just Tired

Last Update on May 23, 2024 : Published on May 24, 2024

In our daily lives, we get lost in chores, work deadlines, social life, and other responsibilities. At the end of the day, we’re left with nothing but a strange tiredness in our bones. The feeling when you’re more than just tired, that’s when it becomes an indicator of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Also known as CFS, chronic fatigue is a condition – often misunderstood and underdiagnosed – that causes you to feel constant tiredness. For many people, it’s a life-altering fatigue that no amount of rest can treat.

Chronic fatigue syndrome, scientifically called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, is a long-term condition that can affect your mind and body. If you live with CFS, then you find it hard to manage your day-to-day activities because you feel extremely fatigued all the time. This fatigue is not the kind that can be fixed with a long rest or vacation. It’s a pervasive condition that can permeate every aspect of your life.

Along with tiredness, chronic fatigue can accompany other symptoms such as sleep issues, pain, cognitive malfunctions, and more. Despite CFS being a real condition, it remains overlooked. In this article, we’re exploring more about chronic fatigue syndrome, its causes, and how you can treat it in the long run.

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complex disorder that can be characterized by extreme and persistent fatigue that lasts for more than 6 months. This condition isn’t a simple-fix sort of fatigue. You can’t wish CFS away with a relaxing weekend, vacation, or a good night’s rest.

CFS causes deep and debilitating exhaustion that can interfere with your daily activities. Unlike other disorders that cause tiredness, chronic fatigue doesn’t have a single cause. The lack of a distinctive cause can make chronic fatigue syndrome that much harder to diagnose and treat.

Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

As I mentioned, there is no distinct cause of chronic fatigue, however, it is likely that other factors contribute to this disorder. Studies suggest that a combination of genes, environmental stressors, and psychological factors might cause you to develop CFS.

Here are some common causes of chronic fatigue you need to know;

  • Medical conditions: Many cases of CFS can be because of certain medical conditions such as a weakened immune system, certain viruses, etc. These conditions can trigger the onset of chronic fatigue, but they don’t truly cause CFS to set in.
  • Poor immune system: Some studies suggest that chronic fatigue can be caused by an abnormal immune response. If you live with CFS, then you might have a poor immune system.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Hormonal imbalances in your body can also contribute to the development of chronic fatigue syndrome. However, the link between hormones and chronic fatigue is still under research.
  • Genes: If you have a family member with a history of chronic fatigue syndrome, then there’s a high chance that you might also be diagnosed with the same. Again, the research is ongoing, but certain gene markers do indicate that CFS can be transferred through genetics.
  • Stress: If you work or live with high levels of stress, then you might become highly susceptible to chronic fatigue syndrome. Believe it or not, stress has been reported in many cases as a trigger for CFS.

Signs & Symptoms of CFS to Watch Out

The primary symptom of CFS is a severe and persistent feeling of tiredness that lasts for at least or more than 6 months. No matter how much rest you get, you can’t shake off the fatigue. This tiredness is followed by other symptoms.

Some common chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms to watch out for can include;

  • Waking up feeling exhausted even though you slept for more than your usual hours
  • Experiencing brain fog and trouble with concentration, memory, and processing information
  • Experiencing persistent joint or muscle pain, without swelling or redness
  • Getting frequent headaches
  • Having a sore throat and tender lymph nodes without a cause
  • Experiencing dizziness spells, especially when standing up from a sitting or lying position

While anyone can be susceptible to chronic fatigue, certain factors increase the risk of CFS. Some factors that can increase the risk of CFS include;

  • Age, likely between ages 40–60
  • Sex, as women are twice (even four times) more likely to have chronic fatigue than men
  • Having a family history of CFS
  • Ongoing stress or going through a stressful period can increase the risk

Can Chronic Fatigue Be Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no surefire cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, but there are treatment approaches that focus on managing the symptoms and improving your life quality. Treatment options are often tailored to meet your needs, so it’s recommended you speak to a professional.

Some common treatment approaches for chronic fatigue treatment can include;

  • Major Lifestyle Changes

The one thing you can do to treat CFS is to find activities wherein no overexertion is allowed. This way, you can develop a regular sleep routine and manage the stress that you’ve accumulated over time. You can also try to practice relaxation techniques and other exercises to calm your mind and reduce stress.

  • Medications

A professional might even prescribe certain medications to address specific symptoms such as pain, sleep issues, and depression that come with chronic fatigue syndrome. Antidepressants, pain relievers, and sleep aids might be prescribed, so talk to your physician beforehand about the side effects of these medications.

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Another way to treat CFS is through cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBT can help you manage the impact of chronic fatigue by addressing the negative and unhelpful thought patterns and behaviors that keep you from relaxing.

  • Alternative Therapies

Other therapy approaches such as acupressure, yoga, massage therapy, and tai chi can also be practiced to relieve the pain and fatigue that comes with CFS. Again, it’s strongly recommended you speak to a professional before undertaking any of these alternative therapies.

Things to Keep in Mind…

Chronic fatigue syndrome and its impact can vary depending on your ability to recover. Some people recover easily from excessive fatigue, while others experience a more fluctuating pattern of fatigue and recovery from it.

Factors that can influence the long-term impact of chronic fatigue syndrome can include;

  • The duration of your symptoms
  • How early you get help to manage symptoms
  • The amount of support you receive from your loved ones

While there is no specific cure for CFS, you can still manage its symptoms with effective management techniques. Learn to prioritize sleep, manage day-to-day stress, and engage in slow-paced activities. You can also consider joining support groups with others who understand the challenges of living with excessive fatigue.

Wrapping Up…

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated yet often overlooked disorder. It’s more than just feeling tired. CFS can be debilitating and can impact almost every aspect of your life. While the causes of chronic fatigue remain unknown, continuous research gives us hope for future developments. Just know that you can learn to manage excessive fatigue with effective strategies, making self-care a priority, and seeking help when you need it.

If you or your loved one is living with the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, then seek professional help for a diagnosis and treatment plans. You’re not alone. You can always find resources to help you manage CFS and live a healthy life.

I hope this blog helped you understand more about chronic fatigue syndrome and how it can be managed. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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