It is estimated that Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome affect more than 1,200,000 people in Spain, most of them women.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a complex disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that affects both the development of professional activities, domestic and intellectual capacity. Being a chronic disease, the symptoms persist over the years and although it may improve, no cases of cure have been described and may worsen. The most well-known symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), in addition to an important physical fatigue that limits the development of habitual activities in more than 50%, are the loss of memory and concentration, sore throat, inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck or armpits, muscle and joint pain without apparent cause, headache, restless sleep and extreme exhaustion after a not necessarily intense effort lasting more than 24 hours.
Disease cursed or unknown?
Throughout history many diseases have been considered cursed. The ignorance of the disease, the lack of treatment, the spectacularity of some symptoms and the social incomprehension turned leprosy, syphilis, madness, epilepsy, and many others, in reason of social rejection; More recent diseases such as cancer or AIDS have also been “taboo” for our society.
Since 1991, chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgia encephalomyelitis, is classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as G93.3. It is defined as organic, multisystemic and chronic disease.
Socially it can be difficult to understand that a patient has a daily, chronic, persistent degree of fatigue that limits him / her to the development of basic activities of daily life. Many of these patients can not go out for a walk normally, they can not develop an active working life, they have difficulties for habitual tasks, problems of concentration and memory.
The development of psychiatry in recent decades has allowed a great evolution of this specialty. Socially, the acceptance of this group of diseases has increased and the diagnoses of depression, anxiety, compulsion with relative naturalness and understanding are accepted. The social “need” to attribute to depression everything for which there is no clear explanation or is difficult to understand persists. Thus, the phrase “will be of the nerves or will be depressed” is common when referring to patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.
From the Specialized Units in the follow-up of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, from the associations of patients affected by this disease, but also from the government agencies, an over-effort must be demanded, even in times of crisis and economic limitations, for a better control, monitoring, diagnosis and dissemination of this disease.
Dr. Jordi Robert, Coordinator of the Unit of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue of the H. Universitari Chiron Dexeus.