Management of CFS
Managing chronic fatigue syndrome can be as complex as the illness itself. There is no cure, no prescription drugs have been developed specifically for CFS, and symptoms can vary a lot over time. Thus, people with CFS should closely monitor their health and let their doctor know of any changes; and doctors should regularly monitor their patients' conditions and change treatment strategies as needed.
A team approach that involves doctors and patients is one key to successfully managing CFS. Patients and their doctors can work together to create an individualized treatment program that best meets the needs of the patient with CFS. This program should be based on a combination of therapies that address symptoms, coping techniques, and managing normal daily activities.
CFS affects patients in different ways, and the treatment plan should be tailored to address symptoms that are most disruptive or disabling for each patient. Helping the patient get relief from symptoms is the main goal of treatment. However, expecting a patient to return to usual activities should not be the immediate goal because the physical and mental exertion needed to try to reach that goal may aggravate the illness.
Because CFS is a complicated illness, its management may require input from a variety of medical professionals. Primary care providers can develop effective treatment plans based on their experience in treating other illnesses. Patients benefit when they can work in collaboration with a team of doctors and other health care professionals, who might also include rehabilitation specialists, mental health professionals, and physical or exercise therapists.
Difficulties of Living with CFS
Living with chronic fatigue syndrome can be difficult. Like other debilitating chronic illnesses, CFS can have a devastating impact on patients' daily lives and require them to make major lifestyle changes to adapt to many new limitations.
Common difficulties for CFS patients include problems coping with:
- the changing and unpredictable symptoms
- a decrease in stamina that interferes with activities of daily life
- memory and concentration problems that seriously hurt work or school performance
- loss of independence, livelihood, and economic security
- alterations in relationships with partners, family members, and friends
- worries about raising children
Feelings of anger, guilt, anxiety, isolation and abandonment are common in CFS patients. While it's OK to have such feelings, unresolved emotions and stress can make symptoms worse, interfere with prescription drug therapies, and make recovery harder.