Editor's Comment: In this report, Megan Anne Arroll, a psychologist working with the Optimum Health Clinic in London, hypothesizes that ME/CFS is a stress disorder. Although this is a popular view among alternative clinicians and psychologists, it has not been borne out by medical research. The medical department of the Optimum Health Clinic is headed by Dr. Nicki Crowley, a psychiatrist.
By Megan Anne Arroll
Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a debilitating condition characterised by diverse symptoms such as fatigue, pain, sleep disturbance and autonomic dysfunction. There remains to be a singular biomarker identified for this illness, hence numerous theories about its development and perpetuation have been posited in the literature.
This brief report presents the model of ‘allostasis’ as a framework for understanding ME/CFS, specifically the notion that the physiological mechanisms employed in the body to deal with stress termed here as ‘allostatic states’ (e.g. elevation of inflammatory cytokines), may in and of themselves contribute to the perpetuation of the disorder.
This theoretical assertion has important consequences for the understanding of ME/CFS and treatment; rather than searching for a singular pathogen responsible for this condition, ME/CFS can be conceptualised as a maladaptive stress disorder and interventions aimed at addressing the allostatic states may be incorporated into current symptom management programmes.
Source: Medical Hypotheses, 15 July 2013. Megan Anne Arroll