The largest-ever study of treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome has found that standard treatment when coupled with cognitive behavior therapy or exercise therapy works best.
The study, released on Friday in the medical journal, Lancet, concluded that behaviour and exercise seemed to moderately reduce fatigue and improve activity levels, while pacing and medical care wasn’t much help.
The research, carried out at clinics in Britain and backed by that countryâ€™s government, is expected to lend ammunition to those who think the disease is primarily psychological or related to stress.
Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome may include severe tiredness, poor concentration and memory, muscle and joint pain and disturbed sleep. In about 25% of cases, sufferers â€“ including young people and children â€“ are unable to leave the house. The symptoms include exhaustion, poor concentration, memory problems, disturbed sleep, and joint and muscle pains.
Although the study shows that recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome is possible, “there is clearly room for improvement with both interventions,” wrote researchers Sijs Bleijenberg and Hans Knoop of the Expert Centre for Chronic Fatigue at Radbourd University Nijmegen Medical Center in the Netherlands .
The research also supports the fairly debatable belief that incremental adjustments in physical behavior and/or mental attitude can ultimately have a positive impact on the disorder, the authors said.
There is no cure for chronic fatigue syndrome and scientists don’t know what causes it. Many sufferers say they think their illness started after a viral infection, but suggested links to a virus known as XMRV were shown in a recent scientific paper to have been based on contaminated samples in a lab.