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chronic fatigue syndrome

Introduction

chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), collection of persistent, debilitating symptoms, the most notable of which is severe, lasting fatigue. In other countries it is known variously as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome, and postviral fatigue syndrome. It was first recognized as a syndrome in the 1860s by Dr. George Beard, who called it neurasthenia. He believed it to be a neurosis with a fatigue component. Definitions and theories of its cause have changed over the years; many cases have been misdiagnosed as imaginary because doctors could find no cause. In the mid-1980s it came to the public's attention, as affluent women in their thirties began to seek treatment. (For unknown reasons, more women than men seek treatment for the disease.)

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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