Many patients with chronic fatigue syndrome are being held back by a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’, according to a leading researcher.
Oxford psychiatrist Professor Michael Sharpe said that some people with the condition do not push themselves to recover. His team today publishes findings which suggest a form of counselling is the most effective way to treat chronic fatigue syndrome, which is also known as ME. The findings are likely to reignite the debate about whether it is a psychiatric condition or a physiological disease.
Professor Sharpe insisted that he views the condition to be ‘a real illness’ with serious consequences. But he said patients become terrified of exercise and physical activity for fear that it will make their illness worse.
These fears can be overcome by cognitive behavioural therapy or a gradual increase in exercise, he said.
‘They get locked into a pattern where they do less, they get more concerned about doing more,’ he said. ‘If you live within your limits that becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.’
The ME Association last night dismissed his claims as ‘bunkum’.
Dr Charles Shepherd, medical adviser to the charity, said there is clear evidence the disease is rooted in neurological dysfunction and that cognitive behavioural therapy ‘has no role to play in the management of ME’.
Source - Daily Mail