CFS - What works for me
First of all, I am not sure that what I have is CFS as it is such a vague disease and difficult to diagnose. But it sure sounds like it is, given the descriptions by others on this board.
The symptoms started for me 30 years ago while I was in college. It was devastating and left me feeling like I was alone in the world with an illness that no one could name or treat. I was tired and nauseated and had headaches and wierd tingling feelings over my scalp as well as some muscle aches, loss of appetite, and difficulty concentrating and sleeping. I felt depressed and hopeless and just trudged through my life. It was there every day and never let up. I stopped telling people that I didn't feel well because they got sick of hearing about it. I just got up in the morning and forced myself to go to school and pretend that everything was ok.
I kept this up year after year for 4 terrible years. I saw a physician and got the usual tests done which were all normal, I saw a counselor, and I had biofeedback. Nothing helped.
Then one day I went to see a psychiatrist. This was 26 years ago The drugs that were prescribed by them back then were the tricyclic antidepressants. He first put me on one....Doxepin I think. No results.
Then he put me on Amitriptyline. A few days later, I felt this funny warm feeling, a sense of relaxation, and suddenly I felt normal. Within hours. It just came over me. I held my breath and to my surprise it didn't go away. Day after day after day, I continued to feel good. For the first time in 4 years. It was surreal.
The tricyclic antidepressants have some side effects - they cause a dry mouth, difficulty urinating, and can cause drowsiness and blurred vision. Amitriptyline was challenging to stay on so eventually I worked my way to being on Desipramine - which has less side effects and works just as well. Imipramine works well also and is less expensive.
This category of drugs is different from the modern antidepressants which are SSRI's (Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, etc) among other drugs. The tricyclics are still around, however. I have experimented with taking the SSRI's due to their relative lack of side effects, but I have never found them to work well for me.
I stayed on the medication for about 11 years and then was able to wean myself off of it. I was off for about 5 years and then had a relapse and went back on and off it time and again.
This is my experience. You may not have the same experience as we have different makeups of our bodies and we may not even have the same disease. But I wanted to put this out there in case it helps anyone else. I would have done it sooner but I've never identified as being CFS until recently, as some of the criteria didn't seem to fit. But perhaps the criteria are wrong.