Chronic fatigue does exist: it’s official

The government has finally issued its long-awaited paper on chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).

The report’s conclusion - that physicians should recognise this as a chronic illness and that early recognition is key to a good outcome - should be seen as a victory for those who have fought so long to have the disease recognised (see p 12).

However, the report is still clouded by controversy. Four clinicians resigned from the panel because they felt that the psychosocial aspects of the condition were not given enough emphasis. They were also concerned that ‘pacing’ - limiting activities according to the severity of the condition - was included as a treatment.

Two patients also resigned because they objected to the inclusion of graded exercise as a treatment option.

The report is only a first step in the recognition of CFS/ME. Clearer guidance on the management and treatment of the condition is expected in due course (BMJ, 2002; 324: 131).