Parliamentary Debate Highlights Continued Controversy and Misinformation Surrounding CFS/ME

According to a story from The ME Association, a recent debate that came to the floor of the UK parliament highlights the misinformation and deficits in care surrounding children with myalgic encephalomyelitis, which is also known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Unfortunately, there are still a considerable number of health professionals that consider the disease to be a mental illness or psychological problem despite the wealth of evidence that refutes this misconception.

About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME)

Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, is an under-diagnosed condition which is most characterized by long term fatigue and other symptoms which severely impact a person’s ability to fulfill daily tasks. The exact cause of the syndrome is poorly understood. Risk factors may include family history, low physical fitness, old age, mental health problems, and allergies. Women are also more likely to get the syndrome than men. The characteristic symptoms is severe, persistent fatigue that has no definitive cause and is not resolved with rest; other symptoms include difficulty sleeping, worsening of symptoms following exercise, night sweats, sensitivities to certain foods, noise, or odors, muscle and joint pain, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and sore throat. Symptoms may appear gradually or suddenly, and in severe cases can leave a patient bedridden. Some treatments may include energy management strategies such as pacing and changes in diet. To learn more about chronic fatigue syndrome, click here.

Continued confusion surrounding the status of this neurological disorder has led to many patients going without effective treatment. Researchers estimate that nearly 125,000 people in the UK are affected by chronic fatigue syndrome. 

Improving Awareness and Research

MP Carol Monaghan called for improved medical training surrounding the disease as well as boosting funding for research so that this mysterious disease can be better understood and treated. One major problem facing children with the disease is concern from child protection services. Around one in every five kids have been referred for child protection, which can often only happen if a child’s illness is deemed to be psychological in nature.

MP Monaghan also called for an end to therapies such as CBT and exercise therapy, which have been repeatedly shown to be unhelpful; exercise therapy can even make symptoms worse. Ultimately, new steps must be taken to improve diagnosis and care for chronic fatigue syndrome patients in the UK and elsewhere.

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