A study conducted at clinics in Britain, and published in The Lancet, revealed that patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome may derive a lot of benefit from undergoing psychotherapy, and gradually increasing exercise, according to a feature on The New York Times.
The results of the study, however, may not sit well with some patients and may only add fuel to an ongoing debate regarding the causes of the condition, and the methods through which it can be treated. The feature said that recent high-profile studies have linked chronic fatigue syndrome to viruses related to mouse leukemia viruses. Patients are then seeking to get access to antiretroviral drugs, a treatment that is very expensive and may continue indefinitely. In addition, health insurers are unwilling to spend for untested treatment options.
This latest study, which was financed by the British government, yielded results that may be more favorable to those who believe that the condition is mainly psychological, or related to stress.
The study tested cognitive behavioral therapy as a supplementary treatment option for chronic fatigue syndrome. This type of psychotherapy aims to change the psychological factors that are “assumed to be responsible for perpetuation of the participant’s symptoms and disability.”
It was observed that participating patients in the study, who were randomly assigned to receive cognitive behavioral therapy or exercise therapy in conjunction with specialized medical care, exhibited reduced levels of fatigue and more improvement in physical functioning, when compared against those who received medical care only. Those patients who received psychotherapy also fared better over those who received medical care and training on how to recognize the onset of fatigue, in order to make the necessary adjustments to their activities.