The path since the first cases of ME/CFS being discovered has been extremely difficult for sufferers, with precious little help from the sometimes backward thinking medical practitioners. Like many other groups endeavour to bring help to those who contract this dispiriting illness.
The path of recognition of ME & CFS from the medical fraternity has been a
long one. Although discussed by some pioneering doctors, most ignored this illness
until the famous mass outbreak at the Royal Free Hospital, London, 1955. No longer
could it be denied. Since then various hypotheses about the cause of the illness
have been published in the medical
press and papers. Many doctors who themselves suffered from ME or knew someone who did fully believed it was a physical illness. Most others stated it was a psychiatric illness. Many people have been subjected to considerable stress caused by diagnosis such as 'Hysteria', 'It's all in the mind', 'Yuppie Flu' and then further subjected to increased suffering from doctors recommending damaging remedies.
1994: The National Task Force Report on CFS, ME & PVFS was acknowledged by the Department of Health. Importantly it recognised the illness as physical rather than mental and urged research.
1996: The Royal College of Physicians, Psychiatrists and GP's published a report to the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health. One of it's summaries said 'CFS cannot be considered either physical or psychological, both must be considered to understand the syndrome'.
1997: Scientific lectures
in Edinburgh by those well versed in the subject, pointed to the fact that ME
was a physical illness
that could create psychological problems rather than the reverse.
1998: Much to the relief of those caused stress by the disability benefits
system, the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Kenneth Calman declared that CFS / ME was
indeed a real illness. Setting up a multidiscipline committee including sufferers
to advise on it's treatment and pass recommendations to GPs. The National Task
Force do another report which was well received
and clearly stated that CFS / ME was a physical illness but needed psychological back up to correct possible depression or other social problems that it could create.
1999: It is estimated that 2-3% of the population currently suffer CFS or ME, though some estimate it higher at 10%. Without doubt it is on the increase. Clear divide between ME and CFS made, ME being to CFS as a fluctuating migraine is to a headache. More and more research being carried out, but as yet no definitive answers. Greater understanding spreads amongst doctors, though many choose to still label it as a mental disorder and treat it likewise with disastrous results. Healthy diet and supplements, especially de-toxifiers and antioxidants, may hold the key to fast recovery. The search continues.
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