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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Chronic fatigue syndrome ..is there help?

    My son is 17 and been ill for over 5 years following an undiagnosed illness that lasted for 3 months with him never actually recovering. He tested as having had brucella several years later. He also ended up very ill with a reactive gland and allergic to penicillin, was treated in hospital intravenously for 3 days to get temp down. That was 2 years ago and he is still very unwell, now diagnosed by his pediatrician with CFS.
    Our GP wants him on SSRI antidepressants now and says nothing wrong with him, other than depression.
    Surely antidepressants in such a young person is treating a sympton, not the cure?
    Concerned Mum.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 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

    Yes, there is help. Finding the right specialist can be tricky due to the nature of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) due to the diagnosis being exclusionary meaning that you aren't diagnosed with depression, hypothyroidism or Chron's disease for example but forfil set symptoms from a diagnostic criteria. Currently there is no ‘cure’ for CFS however there are evidence based management strategies (although sometimes unfairly controversial) being Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Our Active Health Clinic Website outlines and addresses some of these conflicts. If GET and/or CBT are delivered by a trained and experienced practitioner in CFS there are no negative effects.
    There are many underlying factors that can cause and/or perpetuate CFS including deconditioning, anxiety, diet, blood pressure disorders and immune deficiency to name a few.
    Specific to your question, depression is not the cause of CFS but can be a symptom, there is no scientific evidence to use an SSRI to treat CFS unless the patient has depression where it may help with the depression but not fatigue.
    This is a very large topic to cover and if you have any other questions then let me know.
    Nathan Buter
    Exercise Physiologist
    Active Health Clinic

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