Psychiatric Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, is a strange and somewhat vague condition that affects an estimated 5 million Americans. Its similarity to so many other diseases makes it difficult to diagnose and treat. Those who suffer from it exhibit a plethora of symptoms, often including psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.
Because CFS is so easily confused with other conditions, experts on CFS created a more solid definition in 1994. In order to be considered a CFS patient, you must meet the following criteria:
1)Be chronically fatigued for 6 or more consecutive months with no connection to any other illness.
2)Experience at least four of the following symptoms simultaneously over the course of six months or more: pain in multiple joints without swelling or redness, markedly impaired short-term memory or concentration, tender lymph nodes, sore throat, muscle pain, headaches, unrefreshing sleep, or post-exertional fatigue lasting longer than 24 hours. Although the previous eight symptoms are required for diagnosis, CFS patients have reported many others as well. The following paragraphs will focus on three of the most common psychological symptoms.
- Depression: Everyone feels depressed every once in a while. Clinical depression, however, is characterized by feelings of sadness or hopelessness for long periods of time and with such intensity that they interfere with normal life. Those with clinical depression experience many of the same symptoms of CFS, including headache and excessive sleep.
- Anxiety: Anxiety is also an emotion common to all human beings. It's what allowed our ancestors to stay alert to avoid predators. But sometimes a chemical imbalance within the brain can cause a person to be so nervous, restless, or fearful that it consistently prevents sleep and functioning.
- Bipolar Disorder: Previously known as manic depression, bipolar disorder causes extreme ups and downs in mood. One day you could feel so sad or unmotivated that you can't get up in the morning and skip work or school, while the next day your self confidence is so high that you start acting out-of-control and doing dangerous things.
While depression and bipolar disorder can cause fatigue, it is important to remember that these conditions are symptoms, and not causes, of CFS.
Overcoming Psychiatric Conditions with Biofeedback
While there are many pharmacological treatments for the previously mentioned conditions, another promising treatment option known as biofeedback has allowed many suffering from depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder to overcome their symptoms without medication. Biofeedback therapy works by allowing you to monitor involuntary responses, such as blood pressure and heart rate, which occur in response to your condition. After multiple sessions of practice, you can learn to recognize and control these responses yourself, reducing and sometimes even eliminating the need for medication. If you suffer from CFS, be sure to get conditions like these under control before getting other medical treatments, as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder can create major roadblocks in CFS treatment.
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