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Experts Look at Roots of Chronic Fatigue

A variety of triggers can lead to the syndrome, they say

THURSDAY, Jan. 26, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A new review of available research finds that a variety of factors can predispose people to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), trigger the onset of the condition, or perpetuate it.

The review in this week's issue of The Lancet outlines what's currently known about CFS, a condition characterized by chronic and unexplained fatigue that severely impairs a person's day-to-day functioning.

Neuroticism, introversion and inactivity in childhood are factors known to predispose people to CFS, conclude researchers led by Judith Pins of Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, in the Netherlands. Women are more prone to CFS than men, which suggests that genetics may also be a factor, the review authors noted.

Factors that may trigger CFS include sudden severe physical or psychological distress (such as the loss of a loved one) and infection by the Epstein-Barr virus. The perpetuation of complaints in people with CFS seems to be linked to psychological processes.

"The aetiology and pathogenesis (of CFS) are generally believed to be multifactorial," the team conclude. "The assumption is that one or more factors of each of these categories is conditional but insufficient for the development of CFS."

Cognitive behavior therapy -- which teaches patients how to gain control over their symptoms -- and exercise therapy are the only treatments that have been found to be effective for people with CFS, the experts add.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about CFS.

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Jan. 26, 2006
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