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Spectrum of Severity

ME is a Spectrum Disorder from MILD to VERY SEVERE.

The level of symptoms and severity experienced by each person with ME/CFS is unique and may fluctuate over time.

Historically, four general terms are used to categorise the wide spectrum of disease severity and functional impairment seen in ME/CFS.


It’s worth noting that a ‘Mild’ level of severity may be close to a 50% reduction in functionality – certainly not a ‘mild’ impact for the person living with it.



Mobile and able to self-care. May be working or attending school, but often with accommodations and by reducing other domestic and social activities.



Mostly homebound. Limited activities of daily living (e.g., self-care, showering, dressing). Severe cognitive difficulties. May be wheelchair dependent.



Reduced mobility and restricted activities of daily living. Requires frequent rest periods and typically not working or attending school.

Very Severe.png

Very Severe

Bedbound. Unable to carry out most activities of daily living for themselves. Often extreme sensory sensitivity to light, sound, touch, etc. May need total care

Quality of Life

ME/CFS is a disabling illness that affects daily life. 


Studies that look at the Health-Related Quality of Life index (HRQoL) consider five dimensions:

  1. Mobility

  2. Self-care

  3. Usual activities

  4. Pain/discomfort 

  5. Anxiety/depression

Results of studies for people with ME/CFS confirm a significantly lower quality of life than the population mean and the lowest of all the compared conditions.


  • ME/CFS – 0.47

  • Depression - 0.62

  • Multiple Sclerosis – 0.67

  • Breast Cancer – 0.75

  • General Population – 0.85

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