Risk Factors for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop chronic fatigue syndrome with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing chronic fatigue syndrome. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your healthcare provider what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors for developing CFS may include:


CFS is diagnosed one and half times more often in women than in men. This may be due to biological, psychological, and/or social influences. For example:

  • CFS may have a gender difference similar to diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and multiple sclerosis , which also affect more women than men.
  • Women may be more likely than men to talk with their doctors about CFS-like symptoms.

However, an increasingly diverse patient group seems to be emerging as more doctors recognize CFS as a real medical disorder.


CFS is most common in people between the ages of 20 and 50; however, it can develop in people of all age groups, including teenagers and young children.

Personality Factors

Some research suggests that people who are highly active and achievement-oriented may be more at risk for developing CFS. However, perhaps this personality type increases the risk only after exposure to new mental stress or viral infections.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/.

Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Association of America website. Available at: http://www.cfids.org/.

Devanur LD, Kerr JR. Chronic fatigue syndrome. J Clin Virol. 2006;37:139-150.

Prins JB, van der Meer JW, Bleijenberg G. Chronic fatigue syndrome. Lancet. 2006;367:346-355.

Last reviewed April 2007 by David Juan, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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