Treatment options for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are limited. Treatment is largely supportive and is focused on the specific symptoms present in each individual. In most cases, symptoms of CFS lessen over time.
Several therapies have been researched, but there is, unfortunately, no strong evidence to suggest that any of the studied therapies are beneficial to those affected by CFS. Although cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy initially appeared to show some promise, further evaluation utilizing better diagnostic criteria for the condition and separating CBT from other counseling and behavioral interventions suggests that the evidence for CBT and GET as effective treatments is of very poor quality.
A number of medications, special diets and vitamin supplements have been evaluated in individuals with CFS, but none have been proven effective. Although there have been a number of viruses that were initially reported to cause CFS, additional studies have not supported this. Trials of antiviral agents have been ineffective in relieving the symptoms of CFS. Several clinical trials aiming to find effective treatment are currently ongoing.
Where can I learn about the latest research on treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome?
The U.S. National Institutes of Health, through the National Library of Medicine, developed ClinicalTrials.gov to provide patients, family members, and members of the public with current information on clinical research studies. Currently, a number of active, recruiting, or completed clinical trials are listed for chronic fatigue syndrome. To view these trials, go to ClinicalTrials.gov and enter "chronic fatigue syndrome" as your search term. You can use each study’s contact information to learn more about the ones that interest you. This site may be checked often, as it is regularly updated.
You can also find relevant articles about treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome through PubMed, a searchable database of biomedical journal articles. Although not all of the articles are available for free online, most articles listed in PubMed have a summary available. To obtain the full article, contact a medical/university library or your local library for interlibrary loan. You can also order articles online through the publisher’s Web site. Using "chronic fatigue syndrome treatment" as your search term should help you locate articles. View a sample search of articles about treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome here.
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Web site has a page for locating libraries in your area that can provide direct access to these journals (print or online). The Web page also describes how you can get these articles through interlibrary loan and Loansome Doc (an NLM document-ordering service). You can access this page at the following link http://nnlm.gov/members/. You can also contact the NLM toll-free at 888-346-3656 to locate libraries in your area.
Last updated: 10/14/2013
We hope this information is helpful. We strongly recommend you discuss this information with your doctor. If you still have questions, please
Committee on the Diagnostic Criteria for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Board on the Health of Select Populations; Institute of Medicine. Source Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US). Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Redefining an Illness. The National Academies Collection: Reports funded by National Institutes of Health. February, 2015; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25695122.