Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Updated: July 23, 2022

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, (ME), is a complex disorder causing persistent unexplained fatigue, along with potential psychological and mental health implications. Counselling can support you to manage and cope.

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What Is CFS?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), is a debilitating condition characterised primarily by profound, unexplained fatigue that does not improve with rest. It often coexists with other symptoms like cognitive difficulties, pain, and disrupted sleep. The exact cause of CFS remains uncertain, but it is believed to result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and immunological factors.


The mental health side of CFS is significant, as individuals with this condition frequently experience psychological challenges. The relentless physical symptoms and limitations can lead to feelings of frustration, isolation, and even depression or anxiety.


Coping with the uncertainty of a fluctuating illness and the limitations it imposes on daily activities can further impact a person’s mental well-being. Addressing both the physical and mental aspects of CFS is crucial for a comprehensive approach to managing the condition and enhancing overall quality of life.

What Are The Symptoms?

Cognitive Dysfunction

“Brain fog” characterised by difficulties in memory, concentration, and information processing.


Reduced social interactions and engagement due to limitations, leading to feelings of loneliness.

Loss of Identity

Inability to engage in previously enjoyed activities and roles can lead to a sense of lost identity.

Mood Disorders

Elevated risk of anxiety and depression due to the chronic nature of the illness and its impact on daily life.

Orthostatic Intolerance

Feeling lightheaded or dizzy upon standing, possibly leading to fainting.


Widespread pain that can include muscle pain, joint pain, and headaches.

Persistent Fatigue

Unrelenting, severe fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest, often disrupting daily activities.

Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM)

Increased symptoms after physical or mental activity, sometimes lasting days or weeks.

Reduced Quality Of Life

Cumulative impact of symptoms on physical, emotional, and social well-being.


Increased sensitivity to light, noise, certain foods, and other environmental stimuli.

Sleep Disturbances

Insomnia, frequent awakenings, or unrefreshing sleep, contributing to overall fatigue.


Managing the condition’s challenges can lead to elevated stress levels.


The unpredictable nature of symptom flare-ups contributes to emotional distress.

What Causes CFS?

The exact causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) are not fully understood, and multiple factors likely contribute to the development of the condition. Some potential factors that have been studied and proposed as contributors to CFS include:

Viral Infections: Some cases of CFS appear to be triggered by viral infections such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), and others. However, no single virus has been consistently identified as a definitive cause.

Immune System Dysregulation: Abnormalities in the immune system have been observed in individuals with CFS. Immune system dysfunction may play a role in the development and persistence of the condition.

Genetics: There might be a genetic predisposition to CFS, as it can sometimes occur in multiple members of the same family. Certain genetic factors could influence a person’s susceptibility to the condition.

Environmental Triggers: Exposure to certain environmental toxins, chemicals, or stressors might trigger or exacerbate CFS symptoms in susceptible individuals.

Hormonal Imbalances: Changes in hormone levels, particularly those related to the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, could contribute to the fatigue and other symptoms experienced by individuals with CFS.

Central Nervous System Dysfunction: Some studies suggest that disruptions in the central nervous system’s regulation of bodily functions could play a role in CFS.

Psychological Factors: While not a direct cause, psychological factors like stress and trauma might influence the onset or exacerbation of CFS symptoms in some individuals.

It’s important to note that CFS is a complex and heterogeneous condition, and different factors may contribute to its development in different individuals. Research is ongoing to better understand the underlying mechanisms and causes of CFS.

How Phinity Therapy Can Help

Therapy for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) typically involves a multifaceted approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of the condition. Our therapists are sensitive to the fluctuating nature of CFS symptoms and collaborate closely with you to ensure a comprehensive approach. A combination of approaches can empower individuals to better manage their condition, enhance their psychological well-being, and improve their overall quality of life. Some of the approaches we might use include:

Psychoeducation: Providing a clear understanding of CFS, its symptoms, potential triggers, and management strategies can empower you to cope effectively.

Coping Strategies: Teaching stress management techniques, relaxation exercises, and pacing techniques to manage energy levels and reduce symptom exacerbation.

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT can help you to challenge negative thought patterns, manage anxiety and depression, and develop adaptive coping strategies.

Activity Management: Guiding you to establish a balanced routine, including planned rest and activity, to prevent overexertion and manage symptoms.

Graded Exercise Therapy (GET): Gradually increasing physical activity levels under professional guidance to improve physical function without worsening symptoms.

Mindfulness and Meditation: Techniques for staying present and managing emotional distress can enhance overall well-being.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): Focusing on accepting symptoms while committing to meaningful activities can improve quality of life.

Addressing Emotional Impact: Exploring feelings of frustration, loss, and grief associated with the condition to develop healthy ways of coping.

Goal Setting: Setting realistic short-term and long-term goals to promote a sense of purpose and achievement.

Adapting Roles and Identity: Exploring ways to redefine one’s self-identity and roles within the context of the condition.

Tailored Approach: Although there are many options, we recognise that each individual’s experience of CFS is unique and will tailor therapeutic interventions to your specific needs.

What Causes CFS?How Phinity Therapy Can Help


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