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Medications for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Other names: Benign Myalgic Encephalomyelitis; CFIDS; CFS; Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome; Immune Dysfunction Syndrome; ME; ME/CFS; Myalgic Encephalomyelitis; Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome; Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex disorder characterized by persistent fatigue that has lasted for at least six months. This fatigue is so severe that it gets in the way of normal daily activities and is not improved by rest or sleep. Any kind of physical activity or exertion leads to extreme exhaustion (a condition known as post-exertional malaise).

CFS may also be called systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). It may be abbreviated as ME/CFS.

What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Experts are not sure why some people get CFS and others don’t but suggest some people have a genetic predisposition to the disorder which is possibly triggered by a viral infection (such as the Epstein-Barr virus, human herpesvirus 6), immune system problem, extreme stress, hormonal imbalance, or another event; however, no conclusive link has ever been found.

What are the Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

The symptoms of CFS may vary from person to person but can include:

  • Persistent fatigue that is not relieved by rest
  • Headaches
  • Poor concentration
  • Memory Loss
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
  • Unexplained muscle or joint pain
  • Exhaustion lasting for more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise.

How is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosed?

If you have persistent or excessive fatigue, see your doctor. They will perform a physical examination and possibly some blood tests or other examinations to see if there is an underlying reason for your fatigue.

There's no single test to confirm a diagnosis of CFS and the diagnosis relies on ruling out other conditions that may cause fatigue, such as infections, heart disease, or psychological disorders.

How is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treated?

There is no cure for CFS; however, the following treatments may be considered to help relieve symptoms:

  • Sleeping medications
  • Stimulants
  • Analgesics
  • Antidepressants
  • Other medications.

Drugs used to treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The following list of medications are in some way related to, or used in the treatment of this condition.

Drug name Rating Reviews Activity ? Rx/OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol
modafinil Off-label 6.3 46 reviews
Rx C 4

Generic name: modafinil systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

amantadine Off-label 9.4 6 reviews
Rx C N

Generic name: amantadine systemic

Drug class: adamantane antivirals, dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

duloxetine Off-label 4.8 5 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: duloxetine systemic

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

lisdexamfetamine Off-label 9.1 15 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: lisdexamfetamine systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph

Off-label: Yes

armodafinil Off-label 7.3 39 reviews
Rx C 4

Generic name: armodafinil systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Off-label: Yes

Alternative treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The following products are considered to be alternative treatments or natural remedies for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Their efficacy may not have been scientifically tested to the same degree as the drugs listed in the table above. However there may be historical, cultural or anecdotal evidence linking their use to the treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

  • Evening primrose

Learn more about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Legend

Rating For ratings, users were asked how effective they found the medicine while considering positive/adverse effects and ease of use (1 = not effective, 10 = most effective).
Activity Activity is based on recent site visitor activity relative to other medications in the list.
Rx Prescription Only.
OTC Over the Counter.
Rx/OTC Prescription or Over the Counter.
Off-label This medication may not be approved by the FDA for the treatment of this condition.
EUA An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) allows the FDA to authorize unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products to be used in a declared public health emergency when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.
Pregnancy Category
A Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
B Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
C Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
D There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
X Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
N FDA has not classified the drug.
Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule
N Is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.
1 Has a high potential for abuse. Has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
2 Has a high potential for abuse. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
3 Has a potential for abuse less than those in schedules 1 and 2. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
4 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 3. It has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 3.
5 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 4. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 4.
Alcohol
X Interacts with Alcohol.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.