Many ME patients and their loved ones are faced with social exclusion and discrimination due to their illness. This is partly due to the controversy surrounding the condition but it is also partly due to the condition itself. Its symptoms are often so severe that the patient is unable to leave their home, while patients with a severe form of the condition can even be bed-bound which further hinders their interaction with the outside world. As a result, many ME patients eventually become increasingly withdrawn and refuse contact with other people, some even refusing contact with the health care workers.
ME is not a psychological/mental condition nor is it caused by psychosomathic factors. It is a very complex condition which causes a spectrum of symptoms many of which are very physical and cannot be managed by psychological counselling alone. However, the latter has been shown to be very important for ME management. Even more, ME patients who receive psychological counselling have been shown to have better chances of recovery/successful management of the condition. And since social inclusion has been shown critical for mental health, there is a growing consensus about the need to improve social inclusion of ME patients.
Research has shown that mental and physical health are closely connected. In other words, mental health problems can also cause physical problems and vice versa. And this is especially obvious in ME patients many of which also suffer from depression. What is more, depression often makes the already unbearable ME symptoms even worse. Most health experts reject psychotherapy and psychological counselling as sufficient for successful ME management but there is a general agreement that it is a very important part of ME treatment.
Social inclusion and interaction with the outside world are also critical for coping with the illness and getting proper treatment which dramatically improves the outlook. By maintaining or increasing communication with other people, ME patients don’t only get the much needed help and support but they also get a wealth of information about their condition, its management, treatment options, etc. This helps them make more informed decisions about themselves and get a better understanding of what they are fighting against.