EXERCISE THERAPY/PSYCHOTHERAPY NOT ONLY INEFFECTIVE,
BUT ALSO POTENTIALLY HARMFUL FOR MANY PATIENTS WITH ME/CFS
A recent review of the relevant scientific literature shows that the
"revalidation therapies" for patients with ME/CFS, which are monopolized by
the governmental institutions for example in the UK, Belgium and the
Netherlands, are not only not efficient, but also aggravate the condition of
Antwerp (Belgium); Limmen (the Netherlands), October 27th, 2009.
ME/CFS is a debilitating disease, affecting many biological systems.
According to the CDC, the level of impairment of ME/CFS patients is often
comparable to that of patients with some well-known, very severe medical
conditions, such as MS, AIDS, end-stage renal failure, and chronic
There is now sufficient evidence that ME/CFS is a disorder that
primarily involves an inflammation with dysregulated and suppressed
immune functions, oxidative stress, infections, autoimmunity and
mitochondrial dysfunction. During the last few years, many scientific
including gene expression research, have confirmed that patients with
ME/CFS suffer from the above organic disorders.
Despite several major scientific breakthroughs, ME/CFS is still
described in the popular media as a medically unexplained disorder.
Psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy) and graded exercise therapy
(GET) are declared to be the only possible therapies.
A thorough analysis of the current medical scientific literature and
international patient surveys, however, shows that CBT/GET is not only
ineffective for the majority of the ME/CFS patients, but also potentially
harmful. Scientific studies and large-scaled patient surveys have shown that
treatments with CBT/GET seriously deteriorate the condition of many patients
with ME/CFS. The work capacity decreased as well!
The review also explains why GET and exercise do aggravate
characteristic complaints, like “fatigue”, pain, neurocognitive problems
concentration and memory). Pre-existing biological aberrations, e.g.
inflammation, oxidative stress, and dysfunctional ion channels, will be
amplified by a minor exertion, like walking or reading a book … and by
“rehabilitation therapies” like CBT/GET.
The reviewers urge policy makers to change their policies drastically,
by putting a stop to potentially harmful and ineffective "rehabilitation"
programs, and investing into medical research and therapies targeted at the
immune system, infections and other pathological aspects of this horrible
Twisk FNM, Maes M. A review on Cognitive Behavorial Therapy (CBT) and
Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) / Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): CBT/GET is not only ineffective and not
but also potentially harmful for many patients with ME/CFS. Neuro
Endocrinol Lett. 2009 Aug 26;30(3):284-299.
Maes M, Twisk FNM. Chronic fatigue syndrome: la bête noire of the Belgian
health care system. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2009 Aug 26;30(3):300-311.
Frank Twisk MBA BEd BEc
Stichting ME-de-patiënten / ME-de-patiënten Foundation
1906 HB Limmen
Nederland / the Netherlands
Tel. +31-(0)72-505 4775
www.michaelmaes.com (here you can download the full text)