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What is Chronic Fatigue?
Fatigue is a general subjective feeling of tiredness or exhaustion, and is also referred to as lethargy. Fatigue can be physical, when muscles in the body have not had sufficient rest after strain and are not able to perform optimally, or mental, where one’s cognitive ability is impaired for a relatively short period of time, due to prolonged mental activity. Fatigue is usually considered quite different from sleepiness. Sleepiness can be remedied by a nap or a good night’s sleep.
Chronic fatigue, however, involves a level of tiredness that is disproportionate to the intensity of effort, is sustained - for six months or longer - and has no obvious or apparent cause. Sufferers are hypersensitive to even normal amounts of exercise or activity.
There is evidence that some personality types can be particularly vulnerable to CFS and that the condition can result in severe depression. It is apparent that some people are born with a predisposition for the disorder, which is then triggered by a combination of factors. These factors may include hormonal imbalances, viral infections and immune system problems.
Chronic fatigue should be treated, as it can have a severe impact on ability to perform daily tasks, as well as significantly impairing personal relationships and leisure activities. Psychology Melbourne has a number of psychologists who can help clients with chronic fatigue manage their lives.
What are some of the signs?
- Reduced immune system functioning
- Muscle weakness
- Impaired hand-eye coordination, concentration, and reflexes
- Extreme exhaustion
- Impaired judgment and decision-making
- Low motivation
- Depressive symptoms
- Resignation to the illness; feelings that this will not get better.
Strategies to help manage fatigue
As is the case with many physical and psychological issues, fatigue can be minimised and energy levels increased through regular, sufficient, good-quality sleep; healthy eating habits; regular exercise and treatment of any medical conditions. Prompt action to reduce stress and anxiety levels can also be beneficial. It can be quite helpful to identify the physical or emotional causes of fatigue.
While there is no cure for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, there are ways to effectively manage it.
An effective treatment for chronic fatigue is therapy and cognitive training. Speaking with a psychologist or counsellor can help you figure out options to work around the limitations that chronic fatigue imposes on you, this can in turn tell help you feel more in control and dramatically improve your outlook.
Due to the nature of the disorder, those with chronic fatigue are often very inactive. Graded exercise with a physical therapist can also aid with the reduction of hypersensitivity to exercise, and slowly increase the exercises you can do.
When to seek professional assistance
Fatigue can affect all areas of life. When you are drained of energy on a regular basis, relationships at home, with friends or in the workplace can suffer. Tiredness affects concentration, so performance and productivity can suffer and the risk of injury through road accidents can increase significantly. Long-term fatigue can affect your physical health, as you lack the energy or interest to maintain healthy eating and exercise habits. If your exhaustion is impacting on your quality of life and keeping you from doing the things you want to do, you should seek professional help.