Middle age woman with chronic fatigue

When Rest is Not Enough: Understanding Chronic Fatigue Disorder

Are you tired of feeling tired all the time, no matter how much rest you get? Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, might be the culprit. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 2.5 million Americans suffer from CFS, and women are diagnosed with the condition at two to four times the rate of men.

But what exactly is CFS, and how can you tell if you have it? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this blog post, we’ll break down the basics of CFS, including its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options. Plus, we’ll explore how functional medicine can help you get to the root of your fatigue and start feeling like yourself again.

What is chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, is a medical condition that causes people to feel extremely tired and exhausted for a long time. If you have CFS, you may feel like you don’t have any energy, even if you rest a lot. It’s a real condition that can affect your daily life, making it hard to do things you used to enjoy, like playing sports or hanging out with friends.

CFS is a complex disorder that may be caused by a variety of factors, such as hormonal imbalances, immune dysfunction, and gut health issues. Our approach is to look at the root causes of CFS and develop a personalized treatment plan to help restore your energy and improve your overall health.

What causes chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

Chronic fatigue can be linked to your body’s little energy factories called mitochondria. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells that turn food and oxygen into energy.


Unfortunately, mitochondria can become damaged quite easily, causing your metabolism to run less efficiently or even shut down completely. This can result in a range of symptoms, including fatigue, memory loss, pain, and rapid aging. Chronic fatigue is actually the most common symptom associated with poorly functioning mitochondria, and it can really impact your daily life.

Along with damaged mitochondria, CFS can be triggered by a variety of factors, such as:

What Does Chronic Fatigue Feel Like?

Fatigue can manifest in different ways for different people. Some people may feel a general sense of tiredness or exhaustion, while others may experience more specific symptoms, such as muscle weakness, headaches, and difficulty concentrating.

Who is at risk for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

CFS can affect anyone, but women are more commonly diagnosed with CFS at a higher rate than men, and it often affects people in their 40s and 50s.

Other factors that may increase the risk of developing CFS include viral infections, hormonal imbalances, stress, and other underlying imbalances in the body.

However, it’s important to note that having these risk factors does not necessarily mean that you will develop CFS. Dr. Dersam takes a personalized approach to evaluate and treat CFS, focusing on identifying and addressing the underlying root causes of your symptoms.

Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptom Images

In addition to fatigue, people with CFS may experience a range of symptoms, including:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpits
  • A sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle weakness

How is chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) diagnosed?

Diagnosing CFS requires ruling out other potential causes of fatigue, such as sleep disorders, thyroid dysfunction, hormone imbalance, and autoimmune conditions. A thorough evaluation may include a physical exam, blood tests, and other diagnostic tests as needed.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treatment

The good news is that there are things you can do to protect your mitochondria, address factors contributing to your fatigue, and promote better energy levels. By taking steps to support your body’s natural energy production, you can help keep your mitochondria healthy and avoid the negative effects of chronic fatigue.

In functional medicine, we take a holistic approach to treating CFS that focuses on identifying and addressing the underlying root causes of the condition.

When we talk about chronic fatigue, we are looking at things like Lyme disease and mold, nutrient malabsorption, gut health, and sleep apnea. We also look at emotional health because sometimes people have had childhood trauma that sets them up for chronic fatigue and mitochondria dysfunction.

We are looking at immune health, nutrients, and if there is an underlying infection. Is there toxicity, is their gut health a problem, are they sleeping? We also look at lifestyle factors, such as stress and lack of exercise, that can contribute to fatigue.

When someone comes in saying they are exhausted, we look at their whole lifestyle. We will talk about their lifestyle habits and behaviors, some people work 12 hours a day and never exercise, and are busy taking care of everyone else and not themselves. These factors contribute to dysfunctions and imbalances that then lead to chronic fatigue.

We utilize functional lab testing to identify any missing nutrients and to assess for infections. The micronutrient test is great to make sure there are no missing nutrients. We look at the CIRS markers to see if we need to explore mold, heavy metals, and toxicities.

Address your Chronic Fatigue with an Arizona Functional Medicine Doctor, Cheri Dersam, MD

If you find yourself completely exhausted, no matter what you do, book a consultation with Dr. Dersam today. We can work together to get to the root of your fatigue so you can get your energy back and get back to the things you love to do!

Dr. Cheri Dersam

Dr. Dersam is board certified in both Integrative and Emergency Medicine and fellowship trained in Functional Medicine. Dr. Dersam focuses on a personalized approach that empowers each patient to achieve optimal health in mind, body and spirit.

Scroll to Top