Many people (even medical experts) have long dismissed chronic fatigue syndrome as a psychological or even imagined illness. But today, the condition — defined by persistent daytime sleepiness and cognitive impairment — got some much-needed validation from the medical community.
A new report from a 15-member committee from the Institute of Medicine (a branch of the National Academy of Sciences) argues that the syndrome is a real, physical disorder with diagnostic criteria. According to a press release, the committee is even going so far as to suggest a new name for the condition, because they believe that a new name would express to sufferers that there's "improved clinician knowledge and acceptance, and an enhanced research agenda" for it.
They suggest a name that really underscores the extreme exhaustion sufferers experience after minimal physical, mental, or emotional effort: systemic exertion intolerance disease.
"We just needed to put to rest, once and for all, the idea that this is just psychosomatic or that people were making this up, or that they were just lazy," Ellen Wright Clayton, a professor of pediatrics and law at Vanderbilt University, who chaired the committee of the IOM, told the Washington Post.
And while the cause of the disorder is still unknown, the panel defined three critical symptoms for the condition: