Chronic fatigue; from cause to treatment

Chronic fatigue, often also referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), was originally used as a working definition for scientific research into the muscular disease ME. Other definitions were later established, making CFS one of several diagnoses for the same condition. Chronic fatigue is a description of complaints. This allows this diagnosis to be made in people who do not have ME. This condition where you feel permanently tired can last for years.

What is chronic fatigue?

Chronic fatigue, often also called chronic fatigue syndrome, is a condition in which you always feel tired. When you are tired, you rest, by lying down or going to sleep, after which you no longer feel tired. For people who suffer from chronic fatigue, this feeling of being tired does not go away after resting. This condition may gradually disappear, but you can also suffer from it for years.
A burnout is a form of chronic fatigue. In this form, fatigue is mainly caused by stress, especially work stress. A burnout often occurs in a relatively short period of time, so it is often easy to find a cause for it. This also means that you will quickly recover from this form of chronic fatigue.
ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) is also a form of chronic fatigue. The literal meaning of ME is inflammation of the spinal cord and/or brain accompanied by muscle pain. However, all complaints are not measurable, or at least that is what is claimed . In any case, the complaints are not demonstrated with the regular measuring methods.


The cause of chronic fatigue cannot really be named. This could be various causes. It is known that an important cause of this condition is long-term overload. Also, many people who suffer from chronic fatigue only developed it after they had an infection. However, it has not (yet) been proven that an infection can be the cause of chronic fatigue.

Complaints & Symptoms

Below is a list of complaints and/or symptoms that may occur with chronic fatigue.

  • Fatigue
  • Less or no strength in the muscles
  • Poor ability to concentrate
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Not stress resistant
  • Emotional instability
  • Extra sensitive to light and/or sound
  • Allergic reactions



There is no specific treatment for chronic fatigue. There are treatments that can also help against chronic fatigue, sometimes accompanied by medication and sometimes without. The result of treatment may also be different for each person. The type of treatment you need depends on the precise complaints you are experiencing. You should discuss this with the treating physician, after which he or she will determine the best treatment for you. Often you not only have to undergo the treatment, but also people in your immediate environment. This will be explained by the doctor and determined to what extent they can help you with the treatment.

Chronic fatigue as a symptom

If you experience the complaints of chronic fatigue, the doctor will often want to conduct further examination. This is because chronic fatigue itself can also be a symptom or cause of other diseases. In the list below you can see which diseases and conditions these are.

  • Depression
  • Burnout
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Polio
  • Lyme disease
  • Pfeiffer’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Sleep disorders
  • Various infections
  • Diabetes / Diabetes Mellitus