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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How effective is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for chronic fatigue syndrome?

    I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome a few months ago and my general practioner suggestioned I engage in cognitive behavioural therapy. I am wondering how this may help as I mostly struggle with the physical aspect of the illness (I am a very sporty person). How has CBT helped others and how could it help me?
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  • 1


    Nathan Butler

    Exercise Physiologist

    Nathan Butler is an exercise physiologist and founder of the multi-disciplinary Active Health Clinic whom specialise in chronic health especially Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, orthostatic intolerance … View Profile

    CBT and graded exercise therapy (GET) are the two evidence based management strategies for CFS. CBT has been shown to be of benefit in clinical trials such as the PACE trial published in The Lancet. How much CBT can be of benefit for CFS depends on the individual, if they are presenting with symptoms of anxiety and depression as a result of their CFS then is can be an effective treatment strategy.
    Seeking CBT often has a stigma that it infers that it is ‘all in your head’. This is an unhelpful belief but management of emotional components of CFS can lead to a better quality of life. CBT is not designed to be a cure but a management technique. Making sure that you consult with a therapist that has experience with CFS is highly recommended.
    Good luck in your journey

  • My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    CBT has helped me with both my clinical depression and CFS.

    I recommend it.

  • Anonymous

    I have CFS/ME and I participated in cognitive therapy. Overall I think I could have saved my money however it was good to get a few strategies to cope and I had nothing to lose except upfront funds.

    I found I had a good/better response from diet change even though I had a very good diet in the beginning and I also had good response in identifying other undermining gut infections.

    I still suffer from over exertion however I can function through the day although still not working.

    I hope this helps

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