How doctors treat ME

According to the UK Working Group on CFS/ME, set up to compile guidelines on the appropriate management and treatment of patients with CFS/ME, graded exercise and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are the main treatments, plus antidepressants for those with depression. This approach underscores the medical profession’s view that this illness is largely in the sufferer’s head.

However, in four independent long-term surveys of ME patients, CBT was the least effective of seven strategies, while graded exercise therapy was clearly the most harmful. Only 24 per cent of patients improved with CBT. As for graded exercise, while 36 per cent said it helped, 48 per cent - or nearly half - said it made things worse.

Successfully treating thyroid disorders is a tall order for any doctor. It’s vital that he not only knows about the gland itself, but also that he understands the entire endocrine system, including the complex workings of the various biochemical pathways.

Unfortunately, most medical students receive, at most, half a day’s worth of schooling in the complexities of the endocrine system. Small wonder that knowledgeable and expert practitioners able to meet the varying needs of thousands of patients are exceptionally thin on the ground.

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