Myths about CFS

Key points on myths about CFS

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex illness, characterised by overwhelming fatigue that doesn’t go away with rest.
  • CFS is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVS), chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) or Tapanui flu.
  • It affects people in various ways and symptoms are similar to many other medical conditions.
  • CFS can be difficult to diagnose.
  • Here we give the facts to debunk 5 common myths about chronic fatigue syndrome.
Tired woman at gym
Print this page

Myth 1. People with CFS are just tired

The facts: People with CFS experience overwhelming physical and mental exhaustion. This is different to how you feel after you've had a few nights poor sleep or the feeling you get after strenuous exercise. Just getting a good night’s sleep is not going to make them feel better. 

Myth 2. CFS is not a real disease

The facts: New research is starting to show that there may be changes at a cellular level in people with CFS.  

Myth 3. Not many people are affected by CFS

The facts: In New Zealand, approximate 16,000–20,000 people experience CFS, which means more people are affected by CFS than multiple sclerosis.

Myth 4. CFS only causes tiredness

The facts: CFS can cause other symptoms such as a sore throat, muscle pain, tender lymph nodes and impaired memory or concentration.

Myth 5. Only women get CFS

The facts: Men get CFS too, and children are also affected. The female to male ratio is 70:30 and the most common age of onset is 33–55 years.

What is ME?(external link) The Associated New Zealand ME Society
What is ME/CFS?(external link) ME Auckland

Need help now?

Healthline supporters block

Credits: Healthify Editorial Team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Dr Rosemary Vallings,

Last reviewed:

Page last updated: