The following letter from The ME Association appeared in "The Independent" newspaper today. It was in response to an article that appeared earlier in the week in which the newspaper's health editor Jeremy Laurence interviewed Professor Simon Wessely.
There really is ME in France
While I agree that many French doctors still refuse to accept that ME/CFS exists as a distinct clinical entity, this situation cannot be used to conclude that the illness is not present in France ("What's wrong with you? It depends on where you live", 28 April).
A proper epidemiological study (The epidemiology of fatigue and depression: A French primary care study. Psychological Medicine. 25 (5) 895-906, September 1995), which investigated the prevalence of persistent fatigue in France, found that this is a significant and common presenting complaint in primary care. Here at the ME Association we are regularly contacted by people in France who are desperately seeking help with regard to both diagnosis and management – some of whom appear to be receiving inaccurate explanations for their persisting ill health.
The simple fact is that if people with ME/CFS do too much and exceed their limitations – as may be advised by doctors who believe the problem lies in abnormal illness beliefs and behaviour. – they invariably feel worse as a
result. The key to recovery in ME/CFS is careful pacing of activities, a process involving small but flexible increases in activity that take account of the person's limitations.
All of which is consistent with the neurological abnormalities that have led the World Health Organisation to officially classify ME as a neurological disorder (in section G93.3 in ICD10).
Dr Charles Shepherd
Hon Medical Adviser, M.E. Association, Gawcott, Buckinghamshire
The original story can be read by clicking HERE