In the timeless pages of literature, we often find reflections of our own experiences, including the trials and tribulations of health. One such example is the character of Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin’s groundbreaking novel, “The Awakening.” Edna’s persistent lethargy, her struggle to engage in daily activities, and her inexplicable sense of exhaustion echo the symptoms of a condition that is all too familiar in our modern world – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, is a complex disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that cannot be explained by any underlying medical condition. The fatigue is not alleviated by rest and may be worsened by physical or mental activity. Patients suffering from this syndrome often report symptoms such as sore throat, muscle and joint pain, headaches, and problems with concentration and memory; they may also experience swollen lymph nodes in the neck and underarm areas.
There are many theories about the origin of this condition, including low blood pressure, depression, and viral infections, but in most cases, the cause remains unknown, and the intensity of symptoms is difficult to measure. According to statistics, about 1% of the population suffers from this disease, with the majority being women, however, these data may vary due to the subjectivity of evaluation criteria.
In the International Classification of Diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome is recognized as a separate disease, first described in 1985 in the United States. It’s important to note that to date, medicine cannot precisely determine why it develops, and its description is based on a set of symptoms in a group of people who had no other detected pathologies. This diagnosis is usually made when other potential causes that could trigger similar symptoms cannot be identified. In most cases, a specific disease can be found and its manifestations can be addressed.
Clinical symptoms of CFS can vary greatly. The disease often starts with flu-like symptoms: fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and headaches. Then, general muscle weakness, muscle pain, polyarthralgia, and exhaustion after physical exertion develop. For many patients, symptoms intensify rapidly – within a few days or even hours, but gradual development is also possible. Patients often experience sleep disorders and heart problems. About 85% of patients complain of decreased concentration and memory disorders.
CFS often coexists with other diseases, such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, temporomandibular joint disorder, and increased sensitivity to various chemicals, medications, energy drinks, and caffeine.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is not just ‘fatigue,’ it’s a condition that can seriously hinder a person’s normal life. It’s more than just feeling tired after a hard day. It’s a condition that doesn’t improve with rest and can be so severe that it interferes with performing regular daily tasks.
Psychosomatics of Chronic Fatigue
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may be linked to psychosomatics, which refers to the influence of mental and emotional states on physical health.
According to renowned self-help author and speaker Louise Hay, the causes of this syndrome could be resistance, boredom, and engagement in disliked activities. These factors can lead to the accumulation of stress and negative emotions, which in turn can trigger physical fatigue.
Lise Bourbeau, an author of books on psychosomatics, believes that emotional blockage could be one of the causes of chronic fatigue. She asserts that people suffering from this syndrome often lack a specific goal in life. A goal, in her view, is the desire to accomplish something specific in the realm of action or possession. Our emotional body, or body of desire, is happy when we have at least one goal for tomorrow, one for the near future, and one for the distant future. Instead of acting and achieving these goals, a person who constantly feels fatigue gets stuck in their thoughts, anxieties, and fears, which block their actions and drain their energy.
Expanding on this idea, it can be added that chronic fatigue may be associated with unresolved emotional issues or stress. For instance, a person may experience chronic fatigue due to constant stress at work or in their personal life. This could be related to dissatisfaction with work, conflicts in relationships, or unresolved emotional issues.
Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a complex and labor-intensive process. The diagnosis is usually established by excluding other, more serious diseases, as there are no direct tests to detect this syndrome. This can lead to a loss of valuable time during which the patient’s condition may deteriorate.
Nevertheless, accurate diagnosis is extremely important. Some medications typically prescribed for CFS may be incompatible with other, more serious diseases such as cancer, and could lead to a sharp deterioration in the patient’s condition.
Additionally, due to the complexity of diagnosis and criticism from others, patients may experience stress and depression, further exacerbating their condition.
Despite numerous studies, scientists have yet to pinpoint the exact cause of CFS. Initially, it was thought that the disease might have a viral origin, then it was considered as an immunological and mental disorder.
Among the discussed factors that may play a role in the development of the syndrome are increased formation of lactic acid during physical exertion, ATP production disorders, problems with oxygen transport to tissues, and a decrease in the number of mitochondria in muscles. In some cases, CFS may be considered as a consequence of thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, which is the initial stage of beriberi disease.
The treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as asthenia or asthenic syndrome, is a complex and multifaceted task. Unfortunately, not all medical professionals possess the necessary knowledge and skills to successfully address this issue.
The main drug in the treatment of CFS is thiamine (vitamin B1), which plays a key role in regulating metabolic processes in the body, including the processes of ATP production, lactic acid, and pyruvic acid. Thiamine is usually used in combination with vitamins B6 and B12 as part of combined preparations. However, since B-group vitamins can cause a number of side effects, including allergic reactions, the dosage of these drugs should be individual and carefully selected.
In the late 20th century, a drug called Enerion, based on thiamine, was developed and registered in France for the treatment of asthenia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Ascorbic acid, magnesium, zinc, vitamin D, and protein may also be included in the comprehensive therapy for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. An important aspect of treatment is adhering to a sleep and rest regimen, regular walks in the fresh air, avoiding psycho-emotional stress, and balanced nutrition.
Many patients with chronic fatigue syndrome note an improvement in their condition during warm sunny periods of the year or when moving to a warmer climate. This may be related to the thermal effect and an increase in the level of vitamin D in the body. In some cases, a deficiency of vitamin D may be one of the causes of the syndrome’s development.
If traditional treatment methods do not lead to improvement, it may be beneficial to turn to psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, or cognitive-behavioral therapy. In many cases, the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome may be related to psychological trauma and stress. To “reboot” the psyche, it may be helpful to change one’s field of activity, social circle, or place of residence.
The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only. The content presented on this website should be considered solely as opinions and personal experiences. Read more