Chronic fatigue, low energy states, adrenal fatigue, CFS and ME are ‘invisible’ problems and in addition to what is often crippling fatigue, brainfog and a variety of body symptoms you have probably also had to deal with the misconceptions of other’s (often your own family members and partners) such as:
- You are just ‘being lazy’
- There is nothing wrong with you, just work on your stress levels
- Why ‘don’t you just go for a run and start exercising’?
- What do you have to feel ‘ overwhelmed about’ anyways–you don’t even work that hard!?
- You have depression, you need to see a psychiatrist/take anti-depressants
- “All the tests results are normal, so there’s nothing we can do”
- Employers and work colleagues often have a hard time understanding why you can’t work the way you used to and can become increasingly unsympathetic leading to a toxic work environment and/or having to go on sick leave or put your job in jeopardy
- Advice from well-meaning friends and family to Just ‘deal with it’ and accept it so you can ‘move on’ and stop obsessing about it
What is Chronic Fatigue?
If you have chronic fatigue and low energy or adrenal fatigue, it makes it almost impossible to live your best life, or even feel like you are living at all and not just ‘surviving’.
Chronic fatigue is different than normal fatigue that healthy people may experience temporarily after a late night out or after running a marathon race.
In chronic fatigue, the nervous system is not able to rest and restore deeply so people feel sluggish yet on edge, irritable and ‘foggy’ and they are not able to get into the deep state 4 phases of restorative sleep at night, keeping the cycle going again the next day.
These low energy states are actually related to brain patterns and oftentimes a whole ‘brain +body’ energy crisis like a circuit breaker fuse has blown controlling energy and you seem can’t turn it back on now matter how hard you try.
Often people are told they need to exercise more, but if you have low energy reserves already this can deplete them further and send your cortisol through the roof, causing even MORE mental and physical fatigue.
The good news is that you can heal from these issues and flip the circuit breaker ‘back on’ in the brain and break the chronic fatigue cycle in the brain and body.
At the most extreme end, adrenal fatigue, CFS or ME occur when there is this brain and body ‘energy crisis’ and we can no longer generate enough energy to function normally.
The whole chronic fatigue spectrum can also overlap with Fibromyalgia and cause severe disability and frustratingly, all medical tests come back is ‘normal’ so there is no conventional medical pill or treatment which is effective, other than trying to ‘spot treat’ each individual symptoms with sleeping pills, painkillers and anti-depressant medications.
The common thread and the key to recovering from these issues and getting your life back is working on the brain central issues as well as the cellular energy crisis issues.
The initial trigger for chronic fatigue spectrum issues can be viral, often after a tick-illness or tropical viral infection or even a flu like illness.
For others, it can be the end result of mental and physical exhaustion due to ‘acute chronic stress,’ for example, pushing yourself beyond your limit either mentally or physically while already under a chronic stress burden, as is the case often when you are told you have adrenal fatigue.
In both of these cases, viral vs. pushing yourself past your limit, it is like a circuit breaker in the nervous system that controls energy and mental clarity gets flipped the wrong way and once it is done it cannot easily be flipped back on by any single one thing, pill or even meditation or mindbody technique.
We can, however flip the central nervous system and energy circuit breaker back on using a combination of brain biofeedback and neuromeditation, which helps directly ‘reset’ the brain patterns in chronic fatigue that lead to persistent brain fog, fatigue, exercise intolerance and an inability to focus as well as a lack of restorative sleep.
We also use specific food and ‘mitochondria cell fuel’ supplements proven to help restore the ability to generate energy consistently.
Seeing Your Doctor
Most people with chronic fatigue eventually go to see a doctor and often get a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or ME (along with sometimes other diagnoses such as fibromyalgia, insomnia, anxiety or depression).
However, after getting a diagnosis of CFS/ME it is often the ‘end of the conversation’ except for offering painkillers, sleeping pills and antidepressant medications.
These can all help for some people for treating some of the symptoms temporarily (when they do work at all) but the issue is that when you have ME/CFS the nervous system is in a hyperarousal, ‘tired but wired’ state and the brain is exquisitely sensitive to any medication and most people experience a range of side effects from any medication that they try even at low doses.
Doctors often put this down to patients being ‘difficult’ and don’t believe them about the side effect severity at small medication doses but this is actually a well-known phenomenon among Integrative Medicine specialists in CFS and is due to an overwhelmed dysregulated nervous system as well as changes in how the body processes and breaks down many drug compounds.
Going to See a Naturopathic Doctor
Usually the next thing people try is going to see a Naturopath, a natural medicine physician.
This is often more helpful than the drug approaches and usually includes a quite restrictive complicated diet regimen and many supplements to support energy.
Often times people get a ‘quick win’ by adhering strictly to this kind of a program but as time goes on, the results plateau and they hit a wall in their recovery–all while being stuck on a very restrictive diet and taking many expensive supplements indefinitely.
Despite the diet and supplement approaches, most sufferers find they still are exquisitely sensitive to stressors, both mental and physical as well as environmental factors and toxins and so their life is still quite restricted and the mental and brain symptoms of CFS are not well controlled, like the racing yet brain-foggy mind and feeling tired and unrefreshed when you wake up in the morning, even though physical energy may be better.
Going on a Yoga Retreat
Many people try going to yoga classes and even a yoga retreat to try a mindbody approach and due to yoga’s many reported benefits.
Modern yoga classes while great physical exercise and stretching, are not similar to the deep traditional yogic systems that took many years of hours a day mental and physical training to master, starting from a young age in India traditionally.
Going on a yoga retreat or a yoga and food ‘detox’ retreat can often make people feel better (due to removal of all stress and lots of relaxation training) while they are there but the results often do not last longer than 2 weeks once you have returned from your retreat and it is very frustrating to see the progress ‘evaporate’ along with the thousands of dollars spent on the retreat itself!
Adding a meditation practice is another strategy that is often tried, because of the very real mental and brain symptoms of adrenal fatigue and CFS.
The issue with traditional meditation and even MBSR (mindfulness) is that the practice must be done for at least 20-30 minutes each day and it may take up to 6 months to see any significant shifts.
Many people with CFS have tried meditation but I have yet to see it reverse a chronic fatigue illness and put someone into remission.
Traditional meditation techniques have many mental benefits but it’s not quite the right tool for chronic fatigue, and traditionally these techniques were not intended for this purpose-they were used for spiritual practice and growth.
In my practice, many of my patients with adrenal fatigue and CFS had been meditating faithfully daily for years and although it helped them with the worry about their health and getting more control over negative thoughts, it failed to help with physical and mental energy or give them more resilience to stress and energy zaps so they were still quite disabled by their condition.
In CFS, specific mindbody approaches focusing on rebalancing the ‘tired but wired’ nervous system using a step by step system is what we have found to be the most beneficial, combined with neuromeditation, which is direct brain-guided meditation to remove the guesswork and deal with the brain signatures related to chronic fatigue states directly and rewire these brainwave patterns.
Brain Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue
- Brainfog and inability to focus
- Feeling of ‘overwhelm’ and racing thoughts starting from time you wake up
- Wake up feeling unrefreshed and groggy
- Wake up from sleep in the night–fragmented deep sleep
- Crave Caffeine yet when you have it causes palpitations or other ‘overarousal’ brain anxiety symptoms
- Feeling ‘wired but tired’
- Trouble calming down easily before bed and shutting off your thoughts
- Energy crashes in the afternoon where you need sugar, carbs or caffeine to keep going
- Need to sleep and rest for most of the weekend (no longer able to spend energy socializing or exercising or on hobbies) just to conserve enough energy for the next workweek
- Less desire for sex or a lower libido than I used to
- Low ‘brain motivation’ to do things despite really wanting to
Body Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue
- Energy high and then crash after eating a meal
- Always get sick and colds lasting for weeks longer than for other people and more severe symptoms
- Hair falling out
- Low exercise tolerance, even after mild exertion
- Loss of the ‘feel good’ rush post-exercise (lack of exercise endorphin rush)
- Feel more tired after exercise than before it
- Body aches and pains that move and migrate
- Shoulder girdle and neck pain, stiffness and tension
- Subclinical low thyroid despite TSH test being in ‘normal range’
- Heart palpitations despite heart tests coming back as normal
- Chest tightness feeling and having a hard time taking a deep breath despite heart and lung tests coming back as normal (ie ‘non cardiac’ chest tightness)
- Low blood pressure and risk of feeling faint if you stand up too quickly-happens often and daily
If you identify with any of these brain and body symptoms, you are somewhere on the chronic fatigue spectrum.
EEG Brain Signatures Of Chronic Fatigue
Slowed alpha peak frequency: the brain starts to make ‘sluggish’ alpha waves, the brainwaves that control energy and brain resource allocation and calming of the brain and body
‘Backwards brain’: Brains who suffer with chronic fatigue ‘do the wrong thing’ and make too much fast waves (Beta waves) in the back of the brain (you should have high FRONT brain beta waves in the frontal lobes!) and too much alpha waves in the frontal lobes (ie too much brain idling in the front of brain that prevents you from being able to focus and gives you brainfog!). This makes it feel like you are ‘driving with the brakes on,’ and often the harder you try to focus and work, the more brainfog you get–which is extremely frustrating.
Low posterior theta: low theta brainwaves at the back of the head indicate an inability of the brain to ‘self restore’.
When we see these brain signatures and I explain to someone WHY they feel tired all the time and that they are not crazy and it’s not ‘all in their mind’, and it’s not a personality flaw or something they can ‘just work harder at’, it is often a huge relief, especially since these brain patterns are CHANGEABLE using brain neurofeedback and neuromedtation technology to directly retrain these brain issues.
Neurofeedback Brain training helps address multiple brain symptoms including symptoms of depression, cognitive deficits, memory and concentration problems, sleep disturbances, and chronic pain such as headaches. It also increases energy levels.
The mechanism of action appears to be that EEG brain training impacts regulation of brain and nervous system arousal and it increases the brain’s ability to self regulate normally again.
It does this by monitoring brainwave activity, and restoring it to more normal ranges.
Persons suffering from Chronic Fatigue will often see early signs of progress within ten sessions done over a period of 7-10 days such as an increase in energy level, and changes in sleep patterns.
Doing a minimum of three sessions per week or one session daily seems to get the best results fastest.
Often for more severe or long-standing chronic fatigue, 60+ sessions may be needed to make the gains more permanent but gains are normally seen in the first 10 sessions with increasing improvements over time, especially when combined with specific neuronutrition, lifestyle and mindbody training as part of our protocol used with hundreds of clients with chronic fatigue related issues.
3 Quick Tips to Manage Your Energy when you have Chronic Fatigue
- Swap morning Coffee for Adaptogens for longer lasting energy without the caffeine crashes: ie Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Cordyceps and Reishi Mushroom tincture in herbal tea of your choice
- Take 1-minute energy ‘Resilience Resets’ every hour by doing a mini-meditation to give your nervous system a chance to rest and reset so stress doesn’t build throughout the day-use a timer on your watch to remind you.
- Set Your Boundaries-Chronic Fatigue is ‘invisible’ but it’s very real but it is important to educate your loved ones about where you are at so you don’t get burned out- Practice having firm boundaries with over committing yourself to projects and people if it is outside of your ‘energy envelope’ for the day. Expect some initial pushback but this gets easier the more you do it!
Want More Help to Heal from Chronic Fatigue for good? Book a free phone consultation with our experts to see how we can help.
- Hammond, D. C. (2001). Treatment of chronic fatigue with neurofeedback and self-hypnosis.NeuroRehabilitation, 16, 295-300.
- James, L. C., & Folen, R. A. (1996). EEG biofeedback as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome: A controlled case report. Behavioral Medicine, 22(2), 77-81.
- Tansey, M. A. (1993). Neurofeedback and chronic fatigue syndrome: New findings with respect to diagnosis and treatment. CFIDS Chronicle, 9, 30-32.
- EEG sources of CFS: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925492709002406
- NF helps in Fatigue and pain in FMS doing SMR training vs. Cipralex: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10484-010-9135-9
- CFS kindling hyperarousal theory: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166239/
- (Synedrio Neyroepistimon 4 5 2011 (1).pdf)