Yes, it is a real diagnosis.
No, it is not just being tired.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), is so much more than being fatigued. The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions describes it as the following:
Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, is a devastating and complex disorder. People with CFS have overwhelming fatigue and a host of other symptoms that are not improved by bed rest and that can get worse after physical activity or mental exertion. They often function at a substantially lower level of activity than they were capable of before they became ill.The range of CFS/ME varies considerably. Some people with CFS/ME can still function fairly normally while others can be severely impacted and bedridden. At this time, I have a moderate case of CFS/ME as I spend most of my time in bed yet I am still able to walk shorter distances and my mental function is good. I am capable of doing most of my activities of daily living; however, require assistance with some things such as washing my hair. Some people slowly get better, others go through up and down cycles, while others remain the same. A lot about CFS/ME is unknown, including the cause, prognosis, and cure.
Besides severe fatigue, other symptoms include muscle pain, impaired memory or mental concentration, insomnia, and post-exertion malaise lasting more than 24 hours. In some cases, CFS can persist for years.
Researchers have not yet identified what causes CFS, and there are no tests to diagnose CFS. Moreover, because many illnesses have fatigue as a symptom, doctors need to take care to rule out other conditions, which may be treatable.
My symptoms included: fatigue, weakness, muscle pain (potentially fibromyalgia), muscle spasms, hand cramps, general malaise, post-exertional malaise, headaches (dull to severe), chest pain, palpitations, orthostatic intolerance (POTS), poor circulation leaving my feet and sometimes hands, nose, and legs very cold, sensory overload (sensitivity to some light, sounds, and smells), vertigo, dizziness, sleep disturbances and insomnia, hot flashes and excessive sweating, difficulty regulating temperature, disregulated menses, brain fog, depression, anxiety... and the list can go on, however, that includes the majority of my symptoms!
If you or someone you know is battling CFS, I would love to chat and share some of my experiences with medications and other treatment modalities! Leave a comment or send me an email at lifebeyondthewindow(at)live(dot)com
If you are interested in reading more about CFS, here are some good resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The ME Association
International Consensus Criteria from the Journal of Internal Medicine
The Spoon Theory on Chronic Illness
Christian Resources on CFS:
Jesus Today Ministries
The Grace Charity for ME
Everything Beautiful in Its Time - a book written by Catherine, the founder of Grace Charity for ME, who was miraculously healed after almost 20 years of CFS! A must read!
Blogs I follow by other people with CFS:
Tanya Marlow's blog - Thorns and Gold
Dead Men Don't Snore
Learning to Live with CFS
4 Walls and A View