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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Chronic Fatigue

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Other FAQs

Is there any potential harm in any part of the treatment offered?

There are no serious adverse effects associated with CBT or GET therapies for chronic fatigue patients. In a research conducted in the UK, it was found that GET and CBT had very low incidences of deterioration reported by patients in comparison to other therapies for CFS.

We tailor therapy to your particular needs, and will work with you to achieve manageable and realistic goals. We have no experience of CBT or GET having serious adverse effects (some patients report they are more sore, or needed to lie down etc.). CBT and GET are both rehabilitative treatments and there can be temporary increases in symptoms initially.

What would help me most? GET or CBT treatments?

When you first come to the clinic you will be assessed, and a treatment course will be suggested according to your personal needs. Most patients benefit from having both therapies.

I cannot come to Oxford CFS clinic in person, does this mean I cannot receive treatment?

We understand that it is not always possible to visit our clinic in person. We are happy to offer distance support if you wish. This could be over the phone, using Skype or FaceTime.

How long does recovery take?

We aim for patients to no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for CFS by the end of treatment. The length of treatment varies - typically, patients are in treatment for 6-12 months.

What is Graded Exercise Therapy (GET)?

Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) is delivered at the OUH Fatigue Service by a physiotherapist.

The thought of undertaking exercise may conjure up images of intense walking or movements that seem wholly unachievable. Let us reassure you that the word 'exercise' is introduced into the programme simply to imply a prescription of activity, and one that is tailor-made for you. It could be called a Graded Activity Programme.

We do understand the thought of undertaking anything more in your daily routine might feel unachievable: we are not here to prescribe something that isn't achievable or helpful to you, personally.

The aim of GET is to find the minimal amount of physical activity that you can do without exacerbating symptoms, and causing more fatigue, or discomfort or stress. It's about determining a tailor-made programme for you, so you have the energy to undertake some of things you have been unable to do since being unwell.

Physical activity can be getting up, getting dressed, showering, making a meal, walking to school or work or for the bus or jogging and running.
There is a vast array of general every day activities that we include in GET. That is why it is important we complete our assessment so we can find out about you and what you would like to do and how we can help you achieve this.

The first part of Graded Exercise Therapy is to determine a stable daily and weekly routine that doesn't exacerbate your symptoms. We will ask you to complete some activity and sleep diaries, for approximately two weeks. This is extremely helpful in determining what your normal routine is, and how we can help you balance it with rest and activity.

We will then guide your through your programme, and in some instances we might use a heart rate monitor to determine the effort of any activities you do.

What is CBT?

CBT aims to build a shared understanding of perpetuating factors, and identifying strategies to assist in working towards recovery. The strategies are likely to focus on developing helpful behavioural and cognitive tools. The focus of the approach is on rehabilitation/recovery rather than on understanding why/how the illness developed. For patients who feel there is a specific organic cause to their illness CBT is often beneficial. CBT certainly does not suggest that symptoms are made up, or 'all in the mind'.

Why do you offer GET and CBT?

GET and CBT are the National Institute of Care Excellence (NICE) recommended treatments for CFS/ME.