Self-Help Beats Chronic Fatigue

The world is becoming smaller and smaller as the days go by. Blame it on technology and increasing globalization, we feel that our time is not enough to finish all our tasks at hand. As a result, we feel chronically stressed and exhausted not to mention the hassles of the daily commute, exposure to pollution, work/school/personal stressors, health issues, poor food choices, and lack of exercise that take its toll on our body that isn’t relieved by rest or sleep. It’s no wonder you are susceptible to sickness because your immune system is virtually non-existent anymore or more often than not in a really poor shape.

Although it often goes undiagnosed, many individuals today actually suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. It’s also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) as well as systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) quite recently. Have you ever felt tired or extremely exhausted for no reason at all? You probably are chronically fatigued too. Unfortunately, it worsens in the presence of stress or severe mental activity or other unknown external triggers. On the other hand, self-help is otherwise known as self-improvement or self-guided improvement. It’s when an individual makes a change for the better without outside help at all, just your sheer motivation to overcome whatever difficulties you are currently facing.

According to a new study published in The Lancet, a self-help approach to exercise that is supervised remotely by a specialist physiotherapist may help people with chronic fatigue symptoms (CFS). The aim is to feel better and better manage their health condition.

The finding has been detected by analyzing a trial of 200 people with CFS who were assigned either guided graded exercise self-help (GES group) in addition to specialist medical care or specialist medical care alone (control group). The level of physical activity gradually incresed, while GES patients being offered information and advice by a physiotherapist over the phone or using Skype™.

The self-help approach eliminates the need of a physical attendance to specialistic clinic for patients. This can be costly and access to clinics offering the therapy is often limited.


There is actually no known cure for chronic fatigue but it continues to impair people’s lives. It has recently been discovered that you can address chronic fatigue syndrome using a self-help graded exercise along with cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s good news for all those unfortunate individuals who suffer from chronic fatigue because so far, a measly 5{f62df8dbced57732e07aba3c4e84a5f8001876212f3a79bb2bbde2fc8d62e0bd} of patients only recover from this condition. What a depressing statistics.

According to questionnaires completed at baseline and at 12 weeks, the mean fatigue score among the GES participants was 4 points lower than that amongst controls and the mean physical function score was 6 points higher than amongst controls.

Around one-fifth (18{f62df8dbced57732e07aba3c4e84a5f8001876212f3a79bb2bbde2fc8d62e0bd}) of GES participants reported feeling “much better” or “very much better” when rating their overall health, compared with only one in 20 (4{f62df8dbced57732e07aba3c4e84a5f8001876212f3a79bb2bbde2fc8d62e0bd}) of those in the control group. No patients reported any adverse side effects as a result of GES.

“We found that a self-help approach to a graded exercise programme, guided by a therapist, was safe and also helped to reduce fatigue for some people with chronic fatigue syndrome, suggesting that GES might be useful as an initial treatment for patients to help manage symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. We are now looking at whether the effects were maintained beyond 12 weeks,” says Clark.


The nature of the exercise itself being self-help is very different from traditional management that involves consultations in (pricey) clinics where the commute itself can take its toll on the patient. The patients were also free to choose the type of exercise they want from a list of options, thereby giving them more power to choose something they like and are more likely to keep on doing it on their own throughout the week. The goal here is to help them establish a daily routine that will help them address or reduce the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome with as little outside help as possible. So far, this approach produces such a positive response that it sends a message of hope to those silently suffering from this condition that does not have the means to get themselves checked and treated by specialized physiotherapists.

Start a Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *