Why is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helpful for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome causes severe fatigue that is not alleviated by bed rest and lasts at least six months. It is fatigue so severe that it interferes with what should be considered normal daily function and is often aggravated by mental or physical activity. Some other symptoms may include muscle pain, reduced mental capacity, sensitivities to certain foods, sugars, caffeine or alcohol, and even some psychological problems like anxiety or depression.
How can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Help my CFS?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that involves altering your thoughts and attitudes towards a specific behavior (in this case, chronic fatigue). While it is a medical sounding term, essentially Cognitive Behavioral therapy is exactly what its name says. It works to change your mind - what you think and how you think as well as your behavior - how you adapt or react to certain situations. With a therapist, you can identify what situations may trigger your CFS and how you can identify, react to or avoid that situation.
What does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Involve?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy might involve any of the following:
- Recording your thoughts, energy level, activities and any stressful situations
- Working to identify, confront and resolve triggers like lifestyle, stress, diet, and negative thoughts
- Focus on identifying and adapting to triggers so that eventually you can avoid them altogether.
- Becoming aware of your body's needs and adapting your behavior before it becomes a problem
Finding a Therapist
First, it's important that you find a therapist you trust. Ask friends, family or your doctor to recommend a therapist to you. Remember that therapists are people, and the two of you must establish a relationship that is helpful to you. You may want to meet with them a few times on a trial basis to see if you like what they do. If you find that you don't like that person, don't hesitate to find someone else. You can even ask the therapist you are currently seeing to recommend someone else to you. Remember that their job as your therapist is to help you. If for some reason it's not working, it's in both of your best interest to find a new therapist. You may find that you try three or four therapists before you find one you like, or you may mesh with the first one you meet. Be patient. Remember the ultimate goal of cognitive therapy is control over your CFS. You'll work with your therapist to set and maintain goals for yourself until you are self-sufficient. Therapy can reduce levels of anxiety, depression and helplessness until you feel in control of your life again.
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