Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Really a Real Thing?

Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Really a Real Thing?


Do you ever have those days where you wake up feeling exhausted, even after sleeping for a full eight hours?

And then throughout the day, your tiredness only seems to increase – especially with exercise.

If you’re always tired you might have chronic fatigue syndrome… but then again you might not.

The Mayo Clinic defines chronic fatigue syndrome as:

“Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by any underlying medical condition. The fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity, but doesn’t improve with rest.”

And this “complicated” disorder is thrown around by both the medical community and patients alike, with some patients insisting they have it while some doctors claim it’s just a phrase.

So is chronic fatigue syndrome real?

  1. Some Experts Say Yes

Medline Plus points out it is very difficult to diagnose, as some of the symptoms of CFS can mask other medical problems.

However, even critics that used to be against CFS are starting to realize they can no longer deny it’s happening.

PT in Motion reported:

“A turning point for those facing CFS came in 2015, when the Institute of Medicine issued an extensively researched report on the disease subtitled ‘Redefining an Illness.’ It firmly established that CFS has a physiological basis—albeit an ill-defined one—and that it is a ‘serious, chronic, complex, systemic disease that often can profoundly affect the lives of patients’ and ‘requires timely and appropriate care.’

CFS affects between 836,000 and 2.5 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But that’s really only a guess, the agency concedes, as ‘an estimated 84% to 91% of people with CFS have not been diagnosed.’”

If the CDC acknowledges up to 2.5 million Americans have CFS, it’s obvious there is some agreement that CFS is a real thing.

  1. Some Experts Say No

Critics of chronic fatigue syndrome used to call it the “yuppie flu” and refused to believe CFS was real.

To this day, some doctors still call it a “catch all phrase” and claim doctors give this diagnosis to patients when they can’t figure out what’s wrong with them.

These doctors think the fatigue is “all in the patient’s head” and don’t believe CFS is actually a real thing.

Science Media Centre reported:

“A major point of contention is whether psychological and/or behavioral factors play any role in the illness, and likewise whether psychological and behavioral therapies have anything to offer as treatments.

One reason behind the controversy, which is long standing, is a concern that recommending these sorts of therapies means that the illness is ‘all in the head’ and not a ‘real illness’. This view dates back to previously pejorative media coverage (such as describing it as ‘yuppie flu’) and a perceived lack of recognition by doctors and others that CFS/ME is a serious illness.”

Because CFS is so hard to diagnose and can be influenced by so many other factors, doctors claim it’s merely a symptom of something greater, or could be something mental like depression or anxiety.

  1. The Answer Is Both

Just because you are always tired, doesn’t mean you have chronic fatigue syndrome.

Many factors come into play, such as one’s level of movement throughout the day and diet.

If you’re sitting on the couch eating takeout every night… yeah… your body is probably going to feel tired.

And if you’re drinking caffeine late at night and can’t sleep… you’ll most likely feel tired the next day.

However, there are some diseases like Chronic Lyme( I don’t see this article link posted to the site yet –but please link the article Protect Yourself Against Lyme Disease And Ticks This Season) and Lupus which do drain the body and can cause chronic fatigue – and some doctors claim that chronic fatigue would be a symptom of these diseases, not an actual standalone syndrome.

But if suddenly you go from having a multitude of energy to barely being able to move, something is clearly wrong.

It may be CFS, but it may not.  You should definitely see your doctor and rule out something more serious.

While CFS is still debated in the medical community, it seems more doctors are getting on board that it could be a real thing.

What makes CFS even trickier, is there is no real “cure.”

The Mayo Clinic reports some doctors try a combination of cognitive behavior therapy and gentle exercise, and believe this two-pronged approach is key.

Other doctors focus solely on the mental portion of treatment, and work to help develop causes of depression.

CFS is a tricky thing to diagnose, but some people have found relief from incorporating a gradual increase of movement and exercise coupled with stress relief techniques.

Do you believe chronic fatigue syndrome is real? Why do you think it still remains controversial?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to share this article with your friends and family to let them know about the chronic fatigue syndrome debate and let them choose a side!