Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) often referred to as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E), is a weakening illness which sees the sufferer experience long term fatigue which is not improved with sleep, a symptom also accompanied by a myriad of other side effects ranging from concentration difficulties through to sensitivity to bright lights.
Despite a wide range of additional symptoms and side effects fatigue is the key indicator of the illness. However, it is the presence of fatigue that makes the syndrome difficult to diagnose, due to it being a symptom of so many other illnesses.
Though there is no test which can diagnose the condition, the usual route for diagnosis is to first eliminate other possibilities through tests and examinations. After this there are certain criteria outlining symptoms which can be used to help determine the presence of CFS.
The criteria states that clinically evaluated, unexplained, persistent and relapsing chronic fatigue which is not a result of over exertion, not alleviated by rest and is resulting in the reduced ability to carry out and participate in everyday tasks and activities could be an indicator of the syndrome.Symptoms of CFS
Symptoms will vary in severity from person to person, with the least effected still able to care for themselves although possibly requiring days off work to rest. Those who are moderately effected may experience a reduction in mobility and disturbed sleep patterns. Severe symptoms render sufferers unable to carry out every day tasks such as brushing teeth and often mean sufferers require the use of a wheelchair. Very severe symptoms will mean the inability to carry out everyday tasks, bed rest for the majority of the day, intolerance to noise and sensitivity to bright lights.
Symptoms which may be experienced can be found listed below and along with exhibiting one or more of the following, adults who believe they may be suffering with CFS must have been experiencing chronic fatigue for a period of at least four months with no other medical condition identified as the cause.
However, researchers believe the illness could be related to a persons gene's and their susceptibility to viral infection, stress, depression and or major life events which could act as a trigger for CFS to develop in more susceptible individuals.
Factors thought to contribute to the contraction of the illness include viral infections such as glandular fever which is something that occurs in many sufferers thus leading to the above assumption. Genetics are also thought to play a role, with CFS commonly appearing in more than one member of the same family alongside exhaustion, mental stress, depression and a traumatic event.
Experts believe there are certain factors which could heighten the symptoms and therefore advise those suffering with CFS to avoid stress, environmental pollution, unhealthy eating, not being active enough and viral and bacterial infections.Treatment for CFS
Because experts do not know the cause of CFS it makes it all the more difficult to find a cure and though there is no specific medicine intended to treat the illness there are certain medications which may help to relieve certain symptoms, for instance antidepressants for depression and painkillers for muscle ache.
Aside from medicines, sufferers are also encouraged to try alternative and complementary therapies such as behavioural therapy, physiotherapy, counselling and support groups etc. which may help to improve symptoms on both a physical and emotional level.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming and hypnotherapy can be used in conjunction with other therapies and medication to help address certain aspects of the illness such as self-esteem, fatigue, stress, motivation, memory of a trauma, and other side effects and symptoms.
NLP (a therapeutic technique which programmes the unconscious mind to remove or adjust any unconscious patterns of thought and behaviour, thus altering certain psychological responses) and hypnotherapy work in a way which will help a sufferer to understand and identify certain factors which could influence and heighten symptoms and after doing so will help the sufferer to resolve any internal conflict, relationship issues and whatever other underlying issues there may be in order to clear the mind of negative emotions.
Resolve negative feelings and attitudes with clinical hypnosis at Wise Blue Owl Therapy Centre 01784 392449
Schizophrenia does not mean you have a split personality or automatically become violent, a mental health charity has warned.
Rethink Mental Illness said a survey of 1,500 people showed that the condition is widely misunderstood.
Schizophrenia commonly causes hallucinations, such as hearing voices, or delusions and can make people lose interest in life.
But it should not be "a dirty word or a term of abuse", the charity said.
The organisation warned such myths are dangerous.
One in 100 people is affected by schizophrenia during their life, but 45% of those surveyed thought the illness was much more common.
Half mistakenly thought the illness was defined by a split personality and a quarter believed it definitely led to violent behaviour.
But the reality is very different, a new campaign by the charity claims.
It is not true that "someone with schizophrenia can appear perfectly normal at one moment, and change into a different person the next", the Royal College of Psychiatrists says on its website .
And although there is a higher risk of violent behaviour if you have schizophrenia, it does not necessarily make people dangerous.
Comparatively, drugs and alcohol cause far more violence.
People with schizophrenia are far more likely to be harmed by other people than other people are to be harmed by them, the psychiatrists say.
Schizophrenia can affect the way individuals think, feel and behave.
Experiencing hallucinations is common and people often hear voices, which can sound very real and be critical and abusive, although they are all in the mind.Image copyright MRC Image caption Brain scans have discovered higher activity levels in part of the brain's immune system in schizophrenia patients than in healthy volunteers
Delusions can occur too, which means believing something completely and feeling like no-one else sees the world in the same way.
Other symptoms can include depression, loss of concentration and feeling uncomfortable around other people. Some people also have painful feelings in their body.
The Rethink Schizophrenia campaign said the illness can affect other aspects of life too - for example people with schizophrenia die 15 to 20 years earlier than the rest of the population on average.
And only 8% of those with the illness who want to work are currently employed.
The charity said this is because physical health problems are often missed or attributed to mental illness, and the side-effects of medication can cause complications.
Brian Dow, director of external affairs at Rethink Mental Illness, said: "It's about time we all got to grips with what schizophrenia is and what it isn't.
"Schizophrenia can be treated and managed, just like many other illnesses. It's not a dirty word or, worse, a term of abuse."
He added that myths stopped people from getting jobs, forming relationships and getting access to the healthcare they needed.
"The symptoms of schizophrenia don't fit neatly into a box, everyone will experience it differently," he said.
"However, we can all play a role in rethinking schizophrenia, and helping to change attitudes, by learning to separate the myths from the facts."
Prof Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said it was "astounding" that schizophrenia was still so widely misunderstood.
"To tackle the stigma that so many living with schizophrenia face, we have a huge task ahead of us in informing and educating the public," she said.
"We also need to ensure that more medical students choose psychiatry so that those living with schizophrenia have specialist doctors available to treat them."