Cognitive Behavior Therapy & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The debilitating symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome can bring feelings of hopelessness and depression. They can limit and change your lifestyle and cause social isolation. Chronic fatigue can also cause feelings of hopelessness, like there is nothing you can do to feel any better. Cognitive therapy is designed to combat those feelings of hopelessness and teach new behaviors to manage chronic fatigue syndrome.
The purpose of cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome
The pain and fatigue associated with CFS can make sufferers afraid to carry out their normal social/familial/professional activities and responsibilities. Cognitive behavioral therapy allows you to change your thinking and fears and subsequently regain your life. Cognitive behavioral therapy is not psychoanalysis or simple positive thinking. Your therapist will help you see your situation accurately and help you think of ways to reach your goals. Your therapist can also help you define and set limits so you won't overexert yourself.
Why cognitive behavior therapy is helpful for chronic fatigue patients
Staying active is necessary for improving the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. But the pain and fatigue associated with CFS often make sufferers afraid to be active. Some believe that expending unnecessary energy will make the problem worse. Setting limits and being realistic make it easier to think clearly and make healthy decisions.
What happens during cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic fatigue patients?
Most cognitive behavioral therapy treatments sessions last for an hour and continue for a few weeks to several months. Patients are usually given homework, such as attempting tasks they had previously avoided and keeping a diary. During therapy, you will probably:
- Keep a diary: Patients keep track of what makes the CFS symptoms better or worse and the times of day that energy waxes and wanes. This allows you to plan your day and set accurate limits.
- Confront discouraging thoughts: Patients learn to confront and quash the negative thoughts that hold them back and change them to positive ideas that allow them to cope.
- Learn to be flexible: This way you will adapt when you don't have as much energy as you thought you would.
- Learn to set limits: Learning to pace yourself will help you avoid over-exertion.
- Learn to prioritize and delegate tasks: You will learn to figure out which tasks are less critical so you can drop them or ask friends and family for help.
- Manage impaired concentration: Seeking out activities that you enjoy and focus your attention can increase your alertness. Therapy will help you learn to request concise instructions and keep distractions to a minimum.
- Learn to accept relapses: Sometimes you will do too much and your symptoms will return or get worse. Therapy can help you accept it and move on.
The success of cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome
Cognitive behavioral therapy and graded exercise programs are the most beneficial therapies available to chronic fatigue patients. Patients report improvements in fatigue and performance. Doctors believe that a positive outlook is important for any disease, and that the mind has a significant influence on health problems. Not all therapists approach cognitive behavioral therapy the same way, so it is important to do some research before beginning a program. Therapy may or may not be covered by your insurance.
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