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Risk Factors for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Risk Factors for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

A risk factor is something that raises a person's chances of getting a disease or health problem. A person can have CFS with or without the risks below. The more risks a person has, the greater the chances are.

CFS is more common in women. It is also more common in those 20 to 50 years old. But, it can happen at any age.

Other things that raise the risk of CFS are:

  • Recent infection such as cold, flu, or stomach bug
  • Family history of CFS
  • Mental health problems, such as stress, depression, or anxiety
  • Early abuse, trauma, or family problems
  • History of a burn injury
  • Service in Gulf War

Not all risk factors can be controlled. Steps may be taken to help reduce the risk of others—such as stress and infections.


  • Chronic fatigue syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/chronic-fatigue-syndrome.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/special-subjects/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/chronic-fatigue-syndrome.
  • Son CG. Differential diagnosis between "chronic fatigue" and "chronic fatigue syndrome". Integr Med Res. 2019;8(2):89-91.
  • What is ME/CFS? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/me-cfs/about/index.html.


  • Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.