Psychological support helps adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome

December 06, 2004

Psychological support, in the form of cognitive behaviour therapy, is an effective treatment for adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome, finds a new study published on bmj.com today.

Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have debilitating unexplained severe fatigue that is not alleviated by rest. Trials have shown that cognitive behaviour therapy is effective in adults, but there have been no published studies on such therapy for adolescents.

Researchers in the Netherlands identified 71 adolescents aged 10-17 years with chronic fatigue syndrome; 36 were randomly assigned to immediate cognitive behaviour therapy and 35 to the waiting list for therapy.

The therapy comprised 10 individual sessions over five months. All participants were assessed after five months.

Patients in the therapy group reported significantly greater decrease in fatigue severity and functional impairment, while their attendance at school increased significantly. They also reported a significant reduction in other symptoms, such as impaired concentration, muscle pain, and headache.

"This study is the first randomised controlled trial to show that cognitive behaviour therapy can successfully be used to treat adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome," conclude the authors.
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BMJ

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