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CFS causing trauma/PTSD reactions? Looking for resources

Mr. Cat

Senior Member
Nothern California
Hello PR members,

I have become interested recently in the link between CFS and trauma/PTSD-type reactions. I have heard that chronic diseases often affect the sympathetic nervous system, making us anxious, wired and on edge, and that the vagus nerve, linked by some PTSD theorists to trauma, may play a neurological role.

Part of the DSM IV criteria for PTSD is that (1) "the person experienced...an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self..." and (2) "the person's response involved intense fear, helplessness or horror." There are more criteria involving symptoms, but I would bet that many CFS patients would meet these causal criteria.

For myself, when CFS symptoms come on, I feel more anxious/irritated, easily overwhelmed, dissociated, and have difficulty emotionally connecting to people, all of which are classic PTSD symptoms. I also have anxiety when I feel/think of CFS symptoms coming on or worsening.

I am not so much interested in whether/how early trauma may make CFS and other chronic diseases more likely (there is already some research on this interesting topic), but whether/how CFS can cause neurological trauma reactions, and more importantly, whether these can be helped by trauma-based psychotherapies or other psychologically/ neurologically-based methods of coping. I am looking into Somatic Experiencing, a trauma-focussed psychotherapy, and its writings, right now, and would appreciate any other resources, either on PR's many threads, or elsewhere.

Thank you


Senior Member
Hi MrCat, I had a former PTSD diagnosis prior to onset. However it was manageable. I agree with all you say. For me it's pure hell because via CFS & the lack of treatment I feel I have became retraumatised and I could well believe that this terrible illness has the potential to traumatise a person. Check out trauma soma pages very interesting the similarities. Take care ~Sleepy