Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complex illness. The exact cause of the illness is unknown, but may involve both physical and psychological factors. Symptoms of the illness include fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain and exhaustion.

Controversies exist over whether the illness is primarily physical or psychological in nature, and subsequently debates surround whether research funding should focus on biomedical or psychosocial studies.

The illness can make it more difficult for the person to enjoy daily life, take exercise or socialise. It may cause them to spend long periods of time away from work. Many of the symptoms and consequences of ME/CFS increase the likelihood that the person suffering will experience mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. These mental health problems may in turn worsen the symptoms of the original illness.

ME/CFS is a chronic, long term condition which is managed, since there is no known cure. Managing the condition involves being active at whatever level is appropriate for the person, although they should avoid over-exerting themselves, which is likely to make symptoms worse.

Treatments involve both physical and psychological components; and may include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), exercise therapy and energy management strategies.