A risk factor increases the chance of getting a disease or health problem. You can have CFS with or without any of the factors listed below. The more risks you have, the higher the chance of CFS.

CFS is more common in women. It is also more likely to appear in those 20 to 50 years old.

Other factors that may increase the risk of CFS include:

  • Recent infection such as cold, flu, or stomach bug
  • Family history of CFS
  • Mental health illness—especially problems with stress, depression, or anxiety
  • Early abuse, trauma, or family problems
  • Service in Gulf War

Talk to your doctor about the steps you can take to lower your risk.


Chronic fatigue syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115094/Chronic-fatigue-syndrome. Updated September 10, 2018. Accessed February 8, 2019.

Chronic fatigue syndrome. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/special-subjects/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/chronic-fatigue-syndrome. Updated July 2018. Accessed February 8, 2019.

What is ME/CFS? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/me-cfs/about/index.html. Updated July 12, 2018. Accessed February 8, 2019.

Yancey JR. Thomas SM. Chronic fatigue syndrome: diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2012;8(68):741-746.

Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD  Last Updated: 2/8/2019