Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches you how to change your thinking and
It can help you learn to think accurately about your situation instead of
letting fear guide your feelings and your behavior. This type of therapy is good
news for people who have
chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Studies show that this
type of therapy can help you feel better.1
For most people, therapy
usually consists of weekly 1-hour visits over the course of just a few weeks
or months. Longer-term and/or more frequent therapy is available for those who
need it. A cognitive-behavioral therapist may
teach you to:
Keep an energy diary.
This can serve as a guide for what limits you should set on your activities and
how to plan your day according to how your energy level changes throughout the
Confront discouraging thoughts. This
will help you move from the idea that "I'm not strong enough" to the idea that
"I will find evidence to show that I can control this
Learn to be flexible. This can
help you adapt when your energy levels vary from their usual
Set limits. Many people who have CFS need to learn how to pace themselves to avoid overexercising and bringing
back their fatigue.
Prioritize and delegate tasks. You can identify jobs or activities that are more important for
you to perform. Then you can assign family and friends to perform
Accept relapses. It's easy to do
too much too soon. And it's important to accept what happens when you do that—and then move on.
Therapy can be expensive and may not be covered by
insurance. But the fact that it is usually short-term helps keep the cost
Reid S, et al. (2011). Chronic fatigue syndrome, search date March 2010. BMJ Clinical Evidence. Available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
Other Works Consulted
White PD, et al. (2011). Comparison of adaptive pacing therapy, cognitive behaviour
therapy, graded exercise therapy, and specialist medical care
for chronic fatigue syndrome (PACE): A randomised trial. Lancet, 377(9768): 823–826.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Nancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Current as of
March 12, 2014
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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