WHAT TO DO IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU LOVE
HAS CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME
Barbara Pino, MA, MFCC
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is an illness that is on the rise. It is so
prevalent that the Center for Disease Control has a menu of pre-recorded
information about CFS available on its info-line. Among private insurers,
CFS has been the fastest rising cause of disability in both men and women
since 1989. A presentation at the last Chronic Fatigue Syndrome conference
by the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health reflected the government's
increasing attention to CFS as a real public health concern.
If you believe you have CFS, receiving a diagnosis as early as possible
can be most helpful. Finding a physician who is familiar with CFS and
sensitive to the problems associated with it can be a task, but patients
agree it is worth the effort. Most CFS associations and support groups have
lists of doctors who are supportive.
Frequently, patients find that a combination of traditional and holistic
approaches is most effective in supporting the immune system. Almost all
find that a changes in diet and lifestyle are essential elements to feeling
better. Because CFS is a chronic illness, it is important to have coping
mechanisms and lifestyle patterns
which work for the long haul.
Friends and family can:
- Give the patient understanding by validating the patient's perceptions
that he or she is sick;
- Allow the patient to take care of herself, however she chooses;
- Give the patient permission to do only what he feels like doing and ease
up on obligations and social/time commitments;
- Take care of your needs for time away, alone time, and nurturing.
Develop friendships that allow you to vent resentment, anger, and frustration so
that it isn't directed toward the patient. Find a support group for
partners of patients, using Internet Newsgroups to ask questions and seek
support from other net users.
The patient can be most helped by:
- Focusing on what she/he CAN do in the present;
- Paying attention to signals from the body;
- Using these signals to find relief in small ways (shifting weight while
seated, sleeping different hours, vitamins, massage, 10-minute walks, etc.);
- Working toward wellness using whatever modalities seem to help with the
assistance of a trained physician and psychotherapist;
- Understand that loved ones may vary in consistency of availability over
time (they get stressed with this illness too, and have a right to talk
about it with others, or with you);
- Find information and support in as many ways as possible. Utilize
Internet news services, information files, and discussion/support groups for
- Using creativity to find what works for you can be rewarding, resulting in
richer life quality.
For more information, contact
- The Life Strategy Center at (619) 295-9313
- The CFIDS Association of America, Inc. at (800) 442-3437.
Barbara Pino, MA, MFCC, is a psychotherapist in
private practice in San Diego, California. Having recovered from Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome after four years of disability, she specializes in working with immune
system issues. Ms. Pino is a CFS resource contact person in San Diego and regularly
writes and lectures to promote education in the area of immune system problems.
For more information on CFS, please call her at: The Life Strategy Center (619)
295-9313 or contact The CFIDS Association of America, Inc. (800) 442-3437.