Source: The Mercury, 25 January 1995, p. 11


Women more
likely to
suffer fatigue

WOMEN were three
times more likely to
have chronic fatigue
syndrome than men, yet
they were diagnosed less
than half as quickly and
many were wrongly sent
to a psychiatrist, a re-
cent survey suggests.

Women were diagnosed 
with CFS or myalgic en-
cephalomyelitis an average 
of 4.7 years after the 
first symptoms, more than 
twice the average 1.8 
years doctors took to 
diagnose men, the survey 
of almost 300 people 
found.

The results of the study 
do not necessarily apply 
across the nation because 
the 206 women and 67 men 
were members of the ME/
CFS Society of New South
Wales and a northern
Sydney CFS youth sup-
port group rather than a
randomly selected slice
of the general popula-
tion.

People with CFS saw
a doctor an average of
25.8 times a year but
had a low level of
satisfaction with how
general practitioners
and specialists handled
the disease.

More than half those
surveyed found their
doctors were dismissive
of their illness or ac-
cused them of malinger-
ing and 30 per cent
found themselves in-
appropriately referred
to a psychiatrist.

Because of CFS-link-
ed weight loss, young
girls were particularly
at risk of being misdiag-
nosed with the eating
disorders anorexia or
bulimia nervosa by doc-
tors who did not know
about or believe in 
CFS, ME/CFS member
Michael Lyons said
yesterday.

"A great percentage of
them don't even believe
in ME," he said.

"It baffles me why
doctors find it so diffi-
cult to take it on board."
CFS is thought to
affect between 50,000
and 150,000 people in
Australia.

The ME/CFS Society
of NSW's survey was
conducted in 1993 and
reported to the federal
health minister's CFS
review committee.

Committee leader Dr
David Watson of St John
of God Hospital, West-
ern Australia, will
speak at a consensus
conference on CFS at
Sydney's Darling Har-
bour Convention Centre
on February 18 and 19.

CFS can last for months 
or even years troubling 
people with overwhelming 
lethargy, muscle pains, 
poor circulation, poor 
concentration and memory
loss often making it im-
possible to work or even 
to get out of bed.

        AAP


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