Cognitive Impairments

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A key noticeable aspect of CFS/ME is cognitive impairment. This is not just typical forgetfulness or confusion associated with normal fatigue, but consistent, disabling cognitive issues that impact the quality of life of a patient.

Examples of Cognitive Impairments

  • Memory problems: this can include short-term memory lapses, difficulty recalling recent events, or forgetting names or appointments.
  • Concentration issues: Patients with CFS/ME often struggle with maintaining focus or concentration. Performing mentally-intensive tasks may feel overwhelming and result in fatigue.
  • Slow information processing: Patients may find it harder to understand or process information as quickly as they used to, making tasks such as reading, studying, or following complex instructions more difficult.
  • Word-finding difficulties: Many CFS/ME patients have trouble retrieving the correct words during conversation. This is sometimes referred to as ‘brain fog’.

Managing Cognitive Impairments

While there is currently no cure for the cognitive impairments caused by CFS/ME, there are strategies to manage these symptoms. It may include the use of cognitive aids like planners or reminder apps, pursuing cognitive behavioural therapy, pacing mental activities, and ensuring adequate rest and relaxation to minimise cognitive fatigue.

Patients with CFS/ME who experience cognitive impairments should also get assessed regularly as cognitive issues can impact their mental health, including depression and anxiety.

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