A research group has presented new research that expands understanding of chronic fatigue syndromes, including CFS/ME and post-coronavirus conditions, which are sometimes viewed as incurable diseases. The findings may provide new hope for patients with these conditions.
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The Oslo Chronic Fatigue Consortium research group, which consists of researchers, doctors and patient representatives, confirms that the symptoms associated with conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and post-Covid conditions are real. It may largely reflect the brain’s response to a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors, rather than an isolated disease process. This involves the continued activation of neuropsychological stress response mechanisms, which in turn can affect the immune system, hormone balance, cognitive functions and behaviour.
The article, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, also offers an alternative to today’s practice, which states that these conditions are best managed through prolonged rest, isolation, and reducing social and sensory stimuli. Instead, it emphasizes the possibility that patients can improve and, in some cases, become healthy with the help of strategies that focus on thoughts and behaviors or reducing stress.
Mats Lekander, Professor of Psychoneuroimmunology at the Institute for Stress Research in the Department of Psychology at Stockholm University and Professor of Health Psychology in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet, believes the research findings are important for the management of people with chronic fatigue syndrome and post-Covid conditions.
– Those who suffer from long-term fatigue can get help. “We are a large number of researchers and doctors from many countries who together want to give an updated and more optimistic picture for those suffering from severe fatigue,” says Mats Lekander.
– The multidisciplinary approach opens new possibilities for understanding and ultimately treating many disabling conditions characterized by severe fatigue.
The research group emphasizes the following important ideas:
1. Misconception: Cases of severe fatigue are not necessarily incurable. Improvement and full recovery are possible.
2. Limitations of current diagnoses: Current specific diagnoses may be misleading due to overlapping symptoms.
3. Holistic perspective: It is necessary to have a holistic view that includes biological, psychological and social factors.
4. Actual symptoms produced by the brain: Symptoms do not always indicate physical diseases.
5. Conditions can be understood: Symptoms can be understood in light of evolutionary adaptations.
6. Balance between activity and rest: Gradual activity is important for rehabilitation.
7. Ethical and comprehensive approach: An ethical and comprehensive approach is essential for exploring and evaluating treatments.
8. Valuing the patient’s perspective: The patient’s voice is important.
9. A potentially harmful perspective: Portraying these conditions as incurable diseases not only fuels fear, despair, and disempowers patients, it can also be harmful because it hinders effective treatment programs and recovery.
10. The need for a more open dialogue: There is an urgent need for a more open public dialogue about understanding and treating these conditions.
Last updated: September 29, 2023
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