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J Health Psychol. 2019 Feb;24(2):264-275. doi: 10.1177/1359105316643376. Epub 2016 Apr 19.

The psychological impact of dependency in adults with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: A qualitative exploration.

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University of the West of England, UK.


Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis can limit functional capacity, producing various degrees of disability and psychological distress. Semi-structured interviews explored the experiences of adults with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis being physically dependent on other people for help in daily life, and whether physical dependency affects their psychological well-being. Thematic analysis generated six themes: loss of independence and self-identity, an invisible illness, anxieties of today and the future, catch-22, internalised anger, and acceptance of the condition. The findings provide insight into the psychological impact of dependency. Implications for intervention include better education relating to chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis for family members, carers, and friends; ways to communicate their needs to others who may not understand chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis; and awareness that acceptance of the condition could improve psychological well-being.


adults; chronic fatigue syndrome; psychological distress; qualitative methods; well-being


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