There is currently no cure for CFS. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms.
Treatment includes a combination of the following:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and graded exercise for certain people
Sleep management techniques
Medicines to reduce pain, discomfort, and fever
Medicines to treat anxiety (anti-anxiety drugs)
Medicines to treat depression (antidepressant drugs)
Some drugs can cause reactions or side effects that are worse than the original symptoms of the disease.
People with CFS are encouraged to maintain an active social life. Mild physical exercise may also be helpful. Your health care team will help you figure out how much activity you can do, and how to slowly increase your activity. Tips include:
Avoid doing too much on days when you feel tired
Balance your time between activity, rest, and sleep
Break big tasks into smaller, more manageable ones
Spread out your more challenging tasks through the week
Relaxation and stress-reduction techniques can help manage chronic (long-term) pain and fatigue. They are not used as the primary treatment for CFS. Relaxation techniques include:
The long-term outlook for people with CFS varies. It is hard to predict when symptoms first start. Some people completely recover after 6 months to a year.
About 1 in 4 people with CFS are so severely disabled that they cannot get out of bed or leave their home. Symptoms can come and go in cycles, and even when people feel better, they may experience a relapse triggered by exertion or an unknown cause.
Some people never feel like they did before they developed CFS. Studies suggest that you are more likely to get better if you receive extensive rehabilitation.
Complications may include:
Inability to take part in work and social activities, which can lead to isolation
Side effects from medicines or treatments
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if you have severe fatigue, with or without other symptoms of this disorder. Other more serious disorders can cause similar symptoms and should be ruled out.
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Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.