Phoenix Rising - Cort Johnson's Column
...Presenting complex chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) research in a way we can all understand.
Canadian Researcher Uncovers Three Distinct Fatigue States in Disease
by Cort Johnson
CFS/ME patients have long noted that the kind of 'fatigue' they experience is hardly similar to the garden variety fatigue healthy people occasionally experience. Now a Canadian cancer researcher, Karin Olson, has presented evidence that different types of fatigue exist. When she took a close look at the fatigue in fatiguing diseases like cancer, CFS, depression, and overtraining syndrome she found three different types.
Tiredness is the type of fatigue most people experience. Tired people may not be happy and full of energy but they sleep well and aside from some forgetfulness they are able to function normally. Once they withdraw from whatever activity is causing their tiredness it quickly disappears; their stress response is intact.
Fatigued people, on the other hand, do not experience restful sleep and awaken often. They experience system overload with increased sensitivities to light, noise, sounds and odors. They wear out quickly, feel anxious and have difficulty concentrating. They think of ways to minimize their energy production and must cut back on their activities; their stress response is reeling but is still functional to some degree.
Exhausted people have erratic sleep; they can't sleep well at night and often sleep long periods during the day. Instead of having difficulty concentrating they experience downright confusion, sometimes being unable to carry out even simple tasks. Their level of stamina is essentially zero with even small amounts of activity overwhelming them. They feel an overwhelming need to lie down and say their bodies feel unfamiliar to them. Emotionally numbed they lack the mental energy needed to come up with energy saving strategies and have to withdraw from all social activities. Their stress response has been essentially obliterated - they can handle few of the 'stressors' found in everyday life.
The Next Step: Dr. Olson is next coming up with a screening tool designed to indicate when one is merely tired, had become fatigued or has entered into a state of exhaustion. Breaking CFS patients into fatigued and exhausted subsets could reveal interesting clues about the nature of CFS.
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