If you sleep for eight hours a night, yet never feel rested and are constantly tired, irritable and unmotivated, these could be signs of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), say experts.

Yet, for the 250,000 Brits affected by CFS, according to NHS Choices, treatments options offer genuine relief to sufferers.

chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms

Could your constant tiredness be a sign of chronic fatigue syndrome?

Recent findings by the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), suggest that long-term psychiatric and exercise treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome are good value for money.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET) are both known to help patients with CFS, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).

The new findings show that, given in addition to medical care, they are also cost effective.

Professor Paul McCrone, a health economist from King's College London, who led the new study, said in a statement: "It's very encouraging that two treatments found to help a significant number of CFS/ME patients are also cost-effective based on existing NICE criteria.

"There is now a strong case for the NHS to invest in these therapies. Our research suggests this investment would be justified in terms of improving quality of life for patients and could actually save costs to society if the impact on family members is taken into account."

Chronic fatigue syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a condition that causes extreme physical and mental tiredness that can seriously interfere with a person's daily life.

Although CFS is recognised by the Department of Health as a genuine, long-term debilitating disease, it is still poorly understood because there are no known causes and a wide range of vague symptoms.

How to tackle everyday fatigue – and win...

Loading Slideshow...
  • How To Fight Fatigue

  • Stay Hydrated

    "We actually become stressed when we're dehydrated, particularly if alcohol is consumed, so aim for 1-2 litres a day; and cut back on caffeine which is an artificial form of adrenaline and can affect sleep patterns leaving you jittery and anxious - you should avoid caffeine altogether after 3pm." Sleep and Energy Coach at <a href="http://www.nightingalehospital.co.uk/" target="_hplink">Capio Nightingale Hospital</a>, <strong>Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan</strong>.

  • Eat Mindfully

    "Although many of us think we are eating healthy, that diet can make us fatigued. Most "healthy" meals are explained away as oatmeal for breakfast with fruit, lettuce with greens for lunch, brown rice with what ever for dinner. Those same people say they dont eat carbs. Let me make this quite clear..... fruits and vegetables and grains are carbohydrates. Start your day with a protein, eggs, cheese, yogurt, even almond butter and you wont crash thru out the rest of the day." <strong>Dr Eva Cwynar</strong>, author of <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Fatigue-Solution-Increase-Energy/dp/1848508131/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1340970870&sr=1-1" target="_hplink"><em>The Fatigue Solution</em></a>.

  • Go Nuts

    "Have a handful of nuts mid-morning and mid-afternoon, the most common slump-times, to provide a lovely hit of protein to balance blood sugar levels. Raid the snack bowl of almonds, or hazelnuts, then add a piece of fruit for natural fructose for a natural energy boost." Director of <a href="http://www.vitality4life.co.uk/" target="_hplink">Vitality4Life</a>, <strong>Ricky Hay</strong>.

  • Drink Coffee

    "Coffee can actually help boost your adrenal glands (which are burnt out in most of us and the main culpret for fatigue). Coffee, yes, good but only 1/2 cup and only in the morning. Most than that or at a different time puts your hormones into hydharmony and then just like many recreational drugs, we want more and more and it becomes less and less effective." <strong>Dr Eva Cwynar</strong>, author of <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Fatigue-Solution-Increase-Energy/dp/1848508131/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1340970870&sr=1-1" target="_hplink"><em>The Fatigue Solution</em></a>.

  • Keep On Moving

    "Don't stop moving! Make time to go and get some fresh air either for a run, jog or walk. Take full advantage of the sunnier weather and lighter evenings, wrap up to go outside and spend 5 minutes at the beginning of your day exercising and you will feel good for the rest of the day." Personal trainer, <a href="www.nuffieldhealth.com/Individuals/.../Ismail-K-M/" target="_hplink"><strong>Khalid Ismail</strong></a>.

  • Maintain Healthy Nutrition

    "Eat breakfast every morning within 30 minutes of rising to kick start your energy and metabolism and minimise production of adrenaline - it also helps burn any extra calories consumed during the day more efficiently. This will give you bundles of energy to tackle to day ahead." Sleep and Energy Coach at <a href="http://www.nightingalehospital.co.uk/" target="_hplink">Capio Nightingale Hospital</a>, <strong>Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan</strong>.

  • Don't Have Unrealistic Expectations

    "If you're a busy, working mum or person, you'll only have feelings of disappointment and stress if you have high expectations of your day ahead. To alleviate stress and anxiety, try to accept the fact that things will go wrong. "Kids may have a meltdown, dinner may not come out as perfectly as you hope, people may demand your time. Being prepared for imperfection can help reduce everyday stress." Life coach, <strong><a href="http://www.sophiadavis.co.uk/" target="_hplink">Sophia Davis</a></strong>.

  • Sleep!

    "Recharge you batteries over by getting good rest and exercise, topping up good quality sleep with power naps if possible - research has shown that these naps re-balance the immune and nervous systems." Sleep and Energy Coach at <a href="http://www.nightingalehospital.co.uk/" target="_hplink">Capio Nightingale Hospital</a>, <strong>Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan</strong>.

  • Drink (Green) Tea

    "Green tea and ginseng tea are great energy boosters. Green tea contains antioxidant properties to fight free radicals." Health and Beauty Expert, <a href="http://www.tinarichards.com/" target="_hplink"><strong>Tina Richards</strong></a>.

  • Steer Clear Of 'Bad Sugars'

    "Stay away from artificial sweeteners. Sugar substitutes like stevia and zylitol are fine, even good for you, but compounds containing substances such as aspartame can ruin the integrity of your gut and create chaos. Digestion gets slowed, bloating occurs, bowel movements become chaotic and fatigue sets in. No diet drinks..... ever." <strong>Dr Eva Cwynar</strong>, author of <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Fatigue-Solution-Increase-Energy/dp/1848508131/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1340970870&sr=1-1" target="_hplink"><em>The Fatigue Solution</em></a>.

Although there isn’t one specific treatment that works for everyone, health experts are most likely to prescribe the following CFS-fighting techniques to help ease the symptoms:

  • Cognitive therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that aims to change the way that you think, feel and behave.
  • Medication
  • Over-the-counter painkillers can help to ease any muscle and joint pain and headaches you may have. Stronger painkillers can also be prescribed by your GP, although they should only be used on a short-term basis. Antidepressants can be useful for people with CFS who are in pain or having trouble sleeping. Amitriptyline is a low-dose tricyclic antidepressant that may be prescribed.
  • Graded exercise therapy
  • Graded exercise therapy (GET) is a structured exercise programme that aims to gradually increase how long you can carry out a physical activity.
    • Self-help
    Pacing is an important way of controlling CFS symptoms. It involves balancing periods of activity with periods of rest. Pacing means not overdoing it or pushing yourself beyond your limits. If you do, it could slow down your progress in the long-term. Over time, you can gradually increase your periods of activity, while making sure they are balanced with periods of rest.


    Could you have chronic fatigue syndrome? Take a look at these symptoms, as listed by NHS Choices.

    Loading Slideshow...
    • You Could Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome If...

      The tiredness you are experiencing is a different type of tiredness from what you have experienced before. Take a look at the following symptoms provided by <a href="http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Chronic-fatigue-syndrome/Pages/Symptoms.aspx" target="_hplink"><strong>NHS Choices</strong></a>, which could indicate early signs of chronic fatigue syndrome. <strong>Remember: some of these symptoms are vague, so always seek advice from your GP if in doubt</strong>.

    • Constant Tiredness

      If you feel exhausted and do not feel refreshed after sleeping.

    • Muscular & Joint Pain

      If you're constantly suffering from muscular pain, joint pain and severe headaches.

    • Poor Memory & Concentration

      If you notice that you have poor short-term memory and concentration, and difficulty organising your thoughts and finding the right words (otherwise known as 'brain fog').

    • Painful Lymph Nodes

      If you're suffering from painful lymph nodes (small glands of the immune system found in your armpits and stomach area).

    • Stomach Pains & Irritable Bowel

      If you experience stomach pain and other problems similar to irritable bowel syndrome, such as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and nausea.

    • Sore Throat

      If you suddenly develop a sore and inflamed throat for no obvious reason.

    • Insomnia

      If you are experiencing sleeping problems, such as insomnia and feeling that sleep is not refreshing.

    • Sensitivity To Light

      If you become ultra sensitive or intolerant to light, loud noise, alcohol and certain foods.

    • Anxiety & Psychological Difficulties

      If you uncharacteristically develop psychological difficulties, such as depression, irritability and panic attacks.

    • Other Symptoms To Look Out For...

      Although these are the least common symptoms of CFS, they are worth looking out for. Dizziness Excess sweating Balance problems Difficulty controlling body temperature