Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Is ME/CFS Real - Or Is It Really All In The Mind?
One of the most common questions about this illness is whether Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome and Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome is actually real....
... or is it all in the mind?
There are so many opinions out there that's it's difficult to figure out just what's going on. Is what you're suffering from all in your mind? Or is it a physical illness?
Does evidence exist that
proves that ME/ CFS is real?
Find out below...
OK, let's get one thing straight:
ME/CFS /PVFS is NOT
all in your mind.
It is a real condition.
It is a serious condition.
And it is a physical one.
Here are a few quotes from some experts in the field:
"In my experience, (it) is one of the most disabling diseases that
I care for, far exceeding HIV disease except for the terminal stages"
-- Daniel Peterson, International Expert [ref
"Australian researchers found that patients with this disorder had
more dysfunction than those with multiple sclerosis, and that in ME
/ ICD-CFS the degree of impairment is
more extreme than in end-stage renal disease and heart disease, and
that only in terminally ill cancer and stroke patients was the sickness
impact profie (SIP) greater than in ME / ICD-CFS."
-- E.P. Marshall, M. Williams, M. Hooper
'What Is ME? What Is CFS?'
'Studies by the CDC show that people with CFS can be as impaired as
someone with heart disease, cancer or multiple sclerosis,'
-- Dorothy Wall, ' From Skepticism to Science' --
There is considerable evidence from different investigators, using
different technologies and studying different groups of patients, of
a state of chronic immune activation.
In summary, there is now considerable evidence of an underlying biological
process in most (CFS) patients (which) is inconsistent
with the hypothesis that (the syndrome) involves symptoms that are only
imagined or amplified because of underlying psyciatric distress.
It is time to put that hypothethis to rest."
-- Anthony L Komaroff,
Assistant Professor of Medicine at Havard
and world expert on ME/CFS
The Biology of the Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome [ref 12]--
Unfortunately, there are many people out there who still don't think that
Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome really exists. And an alarming number of (misinformed) doctors
still mistakenly believe that PVFS / ME/CFS is purely 'all in the mind'
- that PVFS / ME/CFS is purely psychological - a figment of the patients'
As with any chronic illness, there is the psychological aspect of
having to adjust to living with ME/CFS /PVFS. But that is true for any chronic
Nevertheless, the evidence that is now emerging
suggests that PVFS / ME/CFS is indeed a real neurological, physical condition,
and that the basis of PVFS / ME/CFS itself, is NOT psychological.
here to find out why PVFS / ME/CFS is DIFFERENT to depression...
In fact, the World Health Organisation classifies both Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
(ME) and Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS) as 'diseases of the nervous
system' (ICD-10, Section G93.3).
What's more, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis /Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is now
recognized as a very real and serious, physical, biochemical condition
by the United Kingdom's government.
"CFS/ME should be classed alongside other diseases such as multiple
sclerosis and motor neurone disease"
-- Professor Sir Liam Donaldson,
the chief medical officer for England and Wales, 2002 --
to learn more about UK government's recognition of CFS...
So Where's The Hard Evidence ?
PVFS / ME/CFS sufferers show abnormalities in the immune, neurological,
endocrine, and other systems.
In 2005, a study by a group of British scientists led by Dr Jonathan Kerr
of Imperial College London, confirmed that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sufferers
do indeed have biological abnormalities. It was found that the cells
in CFS sufferers behave differently from those of non-sufferers. [ref
The study discovered that CFS sufferers have a group of genes which
are 4 times more active than those in healthy people, and one gene which
is less active. What's also interesting is that this occurred while
the CFS patients were at rest.
So what does that mean?
Well apparently it has to do with something called gene expression,
which refers to the pattern in which genes are switched on and
off. And gene expression has a major effect on your body's biological
Each cell in your body contains a 'power-factory' that produces energy,
called the mitochondria. And Dr Kerr's study revealed that
many of the cell genes that were identified as 'behaving abnormally'
in CFS sufferers, are cell genes that actually affect how the 'mitochondria'
As Dr Kerr said:
'The involvement of such genes does seem to fit with the fact that
these patients lack energy and suffer from fatigue,'
-- Dr Jonathan Kerr --
And that's not all...
The study revealed abnormalities in other types of cell genes too.
Some of the cell genes that were identified as 'behaving abnormally' are
involved in controlling the activity of the immune system, and others
play important roles in nerve cells.
"This exciting new work shows that some aspects of this complex illness
may be understandable in molecular terms, and that CFS
is not a 'made up' illness."
-- Russell Lane, Neurologist,
Charing Cross Hospital in London --
Although more research needs to be done, the results of the study (and
so far, of a larger study) also suggest that a continuing viral
infection is one of the most likely causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
. And it offers the strongest indication yet that at least one
of the possible triggers of CFS is indeed physical.
These findings support the common belief that CFS can sometimes be triggered
by viruses such as Epstein-Barr (or Mononucleosis),
enteroviruses and so forth.
Click here to find out more
about causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ...
More Hard Evidence ... An Unusual Gene Signature ?
The findings by Dr Kerr and his team are also supported by similar work
by Dr John Gow and his team, at the University of Glasgow Scotland. When
talking about his findings that CFS sufferers have a particular kind
of "unusual gene expression" he said:
"This means the genes are switched on or off at an inappropriate time.
We have identified a number of genes that are wrongly switched on (')
It looks like the immune system is working overtime when it shouldn't
be, making the patient tired."
-- Dr John Gow, [ref
Dr Gow and his team have also generated what they believe to be a "gene
signature" of patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome [ref
6]. In fact, the novel work on CFS by Dr Gow and his team is so ground-breaking
that the University of Glasgow actually patented it in February 2005! [ref
"Professor Kenny De Meirleir, who incidentally helped to frame the
Canadian definition, gave a wonderful exposition summarizing the research
enshrined in over 5000 scientific papers.
(...) Briefly, he and others have elucidated a whole battery of biochemical
tests that reflect the great complexity of CFS. Settling for the moment
on a panel of five or six basic tests, (...) he is able to separate
ME/CFS patients into three separate groups, each with different causes,
therapies and (sometimes) outcomes.
His clinic in Brussels sees 800 CFS patients every three months. Interestingly,
given the biochemical results of these
tests, without seeing the patient he is now able to predict into which
group the patient falls, correctly in 95% of cases. This would be impossible
if ME/CFS is a psychiatric illness. It is also highly significant that
these tests can discriminate between ME/CFS and normal or non-CFS patients."
-- Michael Barratt MBBS
FRCPA, Medical Adviser,
Alison Hunter Memorial Foundation, 'Where to now?' --
“ME/CFS Sufferers Generate Too Many Free Radicals”
Want some more evidence ?
You may have heard of ‘free radicals’ - they are the
molecules in your body that can cause damage to the cells in your body.
If you were healthy, your body would neutralise these free radicals with
'antioxidants'. But if you have ME/CFS , recent research by Dr Vance Spence
et al [ref 15] has shown that your
body is actually producing too many free radicals for it to handle.
"Circulating in the bloodstream are highly reactive molecules, known
as free radicals, which can cause damage to the cells of the body, a
process called oxidative stress.
In healthy people, increases in free radicals are neutralised by antioxidant
defences, and it is only when these defences are overwhelmed that cell
The source of excessive free radical
generation in ME/CFS patients may be associated with a variety of altered
-- Dr Neil Abbot, MERGE [ref
If you have ME/CFS, you’ll probably have wondered why you cannot
tolerate any exercise. Why do your symptoms often get worse after
you’ve exerted yourself physically? Well it could all be linked to
this oxidative stress …
"(…) recent research has demonstrated that incremental
exercise challenge induces a prolonged and accentuated oxidative stress
that might well account for post-exercise
symptoms in ME/CFS patients."
-- Dr Neil Abbot, MERGE [ref
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sufferers show abnormalities in the immune, neurological,
endocrine, and other systems. This page has referred to just a handful
of the studies which provide compelling evidence that ME/CFS is a very
real and serious, neurological condition.
ME/CFS is not all in the mind. Sufferers are not 'making it
up because they are lazy', or because they are 'looking for attention'
or 'feeling sorry for themselves'.
It's very serious. It's very physical. And it's very real.
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