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Adrienne Dellwo

Stereotypes About Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By February 4, 2013

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Stereotypes are dangerous things. When an illness or a patient is stereotyped, it can lead to a missed diagnosis by a doctor, poor treatment by other people, and a host of negative feelings and exacerbated symptoms for the sick person.

I'm taking on two stereotypes this week:

  1. That only old ladies get fibromyalgia,
  2. And that chronic fatigue syndrome is just for burned out yuppies.

Both of them, at their heart, are about who can, or can't, get these illnesses. You can get more information here:

Have you had to deal with these stereotypes? Which other ones have posed problems for you? Leave your comments below!


February 5, 2013 at 3:34 pm
(1) Rachael says:

Although, this rule doesn’t always hold true, most patients diagnosed with Canadian Criteria ME/CFS are between 25-45 years old, and about 80% of cases are in women. ME/CFS was first called yuppie flu because mostly intelligent, scholarly women in their 20s, 30s and 40s seemed more likely to develop the condition.

Lumping everyone with fatigue conditions and/or depression as having ME/CFS is where the problem lies. I believe ME/CFS is an autoimmune illness and that there are certain people who are more likely to develop autoimmune diseases and this illness in particular. So, for me the stereotype of who is more likely to develop ME/CFS holds true.

“…over 45 percent of patients with autoimmune diseases have been labeled chronic complainers in the earliest stages of their illness. This can be devastating to a young woman who may then begin to question her sanity as she tries desperately to find out what is wrong.”


February 13, 2013 at 8:40 pm
(2) Robin says:

I have Fibromyalgia and Wegner’s Granulomatosis. Negative reactions have been more difficult to deal with then the pain, fatigue, and other complications that come along with my illness. I was not diagnosed for years and no one in my life payed attention until I developed a tumor in the orbit of my eye that looked awful. Once the tumor shrunk and I was left with widespread chronic disabling pain with no visible signs to the outside world. That’s when my relationships started to fall apart. People just don’t want to believe what they can’t see. It’s put such a strain on me mentally and has caused me to isolate myself.

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