What Are The Symptoms Of Fatigue
Fatigue can cause a wide range of symptoms.
- Physical: feeling tired all the time, headaches, lightheadedness, sore, aching or weak muscles, loss of appetite, prone to getting sick.
- Mental: slowed reflexes and responses, poor decision making and judgement, short-term memory problems, poor concentration.
- Emotional: moodiness, irritability, low motivation, feeling depressed and hopeless.
Why Depression Makes You Tired And How To Deal With Fatigue
- Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of depression.
- If you are depressed, it’s likely that you will lack energy and feel tired physically, emotionally, and cognitively.
- Depression can also make sleep less restful and restorative here’s how to get better sleep and feel less tired.
- This article was medically reviewed by David A. Merrill, MD, PhD, psychiatrist and director of the Pacific Brain Health Center at Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.
- This story is part of Insider’s guide to Depression.
With depression, energy levels dip, and many of the symptoms, such as profound sadness and loneliness, can further exacerbate fatigue. Here’s why depression makes you tired, how to tell if it’s the cause of your fatigue, and how you can feel more refreshed and well-rested.
Whats The Outlook For Emotional Exhaustion
The stress responsible for emotional exhaustion puts you at risk for a total burnout. Over time, it can lead to health problems. Chronic stress can affect your immune system, heart, metabolism, and overall well-being. Emotional exhaustion puts you at risk of:
- high blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart disease
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How To Get Sleep In Uneasy Times
Chronic stress also triggers low-grade inflammation, she adds.
“We have this inflammatory response when we’re feeling severe states of stress that can last. It’s subtle, it’s low grade and it can absolutely cause fatigue and a worse mood.”
A year of anxiety, grief and trauma
The fatigue and fog so many are feeling now also could be symptoms of other mental health issues that flared over the last year, says Dr. Jessica Gold, a psychiatrist at Washington University in St. Louis. “After this long, most people have had some degree of anxiety, depression, trauma, something,” she says.
As studies have shown, rates of anxiety and depression in the population have gone up during the course of the pandemic.
I think that because so many people are struggling with this and because it is so normal, everybody has something to say. If we could just get to the point where we could be talking about the stuff more openly, we’d feel a lot less alone.
Dr. Jessica Gold, psychiatrist
Long-term anxiety can also exhaust the body, says Gold.
“We evolved as creatures, people that run from predators in the animal kingdom, right? To have anxiety as a way to predict and run from threat,” she says.
Talk To Your Family Doctor
In some cases, your primary care provider may suggest medications to help manage your symptoms. Antidepressants, such as selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors , anti-anxiety medications, or prescription sleeping aids have been used to help treat emotional exhaustion.
Medications such as benzodiazepines can be addictive and should only be used on a short-term basis to lower the risk of dependency or addiction.
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What Is Exhaustion Syndrome
Exhaustion syndrome is the result of long-term chronic stress, which has gone on for at least six months without sufficient recovery. The condition was previously known as burnout, and means that the brain becomes overloaded and the stress becomes pathological.
Exhaustion syndrome can be described in three phases. The first is the prodromal phase, which may produce physical and mental stress symptoms but where the person is still functional in their daily life. Most people understand that the symptoms are due to excessive stress and change their lifestyle.
If nothing is done about the situation, a person risks entering the acute phase. This often happens quickly and suddenly, the source of the expression to hit the wall. The acute phase may last up to a few weeks when the person is not functional at all. It may be impossible to get out of bed, think clearly or concentrate. The ability to multitask disappears. Feelings of desperation and panic may arise, which can be misinterpreted as depression.
The third phase is the recovery phase, when the person gradually gets back on their feet but is still very tired, sensitive to stress and has difficulty with concentration and memory. The longer the recovery, the more normal a role the person can resume in their everyday life, although exhaustion syndrome always causes greater sensitivity to stress, even when other symptoms are gone.
How Can I Get A Better Sleep
If you suspect you may have a medical condition that interferes with your sleep, go to your doctor and have any concerns investigated.
There is no one way to get a good sleep – what works for one person may not work for another. In general, suggestions include:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat at regular intervals and consume a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and protein.
- Use your bed primarily just for sleeping .
- If you are not sleepy, do not try to go to bed. Get up and read or do something quiet instead.
- Avoid caffeine, tobacco or alcohol – especially before bed time.
- Turn off the phone ringer and answering device speaker or phone notification.
- Ask family members to be respectful if one person is sleeping. Family members can use headphones for the TV and radio if necessary.
- Make the room as dark and quiet as possible. Use heavy, dark curtains, blinds, or a sleeping eye mask. Soundproof the room where possible or use ear plugs.
- Most people sleep better when the room is cool. Consider using an air conditioner or fan in the summer months.
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Chronic Stress Causes Fatigue By Suppressing Your Immune System
One of the other ways that chronic stress can be damaging is through lowering immune function.
While many people think that whenever they get sick, it is because they caught something from someone else some new bug that is going around that is actually not the case most of the time.
Our bodies are full of all sorts of potentially disease-causing germs all the time. In other words, the bugs are usually already inside of us!
When we are healthy and our immune system is functioning well, it keeps these bugs at bay.
But when our immunity is weakened, our bodies become susceptible to these invaders taking hold. . Thus, one of the big problems with chronic stress is that it chronically suppresses immune function.
This can lead to getting new infections as well as reactivation of old latent viruses in your system. When that happens regularly, the body is being chronically overtaxed and is suffering chronic oxidative damage in the cells.
Many types of viruses also specifically attack the mitochondria , thus causing a big hit to our cells ability to produce energy. .
How To Fix Adrenaline Crashes And Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenaline crashes and adrenal fatigue are caused by constant, severe anxiety. Such intense levels of anxiety that stay with you all the time result in significantly increased adrenaline levels, and that will always lead to extreme tiredness.
To fix these problems you need to find ways to interrupt your constant anxiety. Interrupt your anxiety often enough and your adrenaline levels will fall, hopefully resolving your tiredness at the same time.
There are 2 good methods Ive found to interrupt anxiety:
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Lifestyle Causes Of Tiredness
In today’s 24/7 “always on” world, we often try to cram too much into our daily lives.
And to try to stay on top of things, we sometimes consume too much alcohol or caffeine, or eat sugary and high-fat snacks on the go rather than sitting down for a proper meal.
The main lifestyle causes of tiredness include:
How Is Mental Exhaustion Different From Stress Depression Burnout Or Physical Exhaustion
Mental exhaustion overlaps significantly with stress, depression, physical tiredness, and burnout. At a glance, they look very much alike. Some may even use the terms interchangeably. There are some key differences, however, between these experiences and how to best resolve them.
Stress versus mental exhaustion
Stress is a term that refers to anything that temporarily taxes a persons mental, physical, and emotional resources. Our bodies respond to both good and bad stress in similar ways. Ideally, were able to quickly resolve stressors and return our bodies to a state of balance. Long-term stress leads to mental exhaustion not the other way around.
Depression versus mental exhaustion
Depression is a mood disorder that is characterized by a persistent low mood. People that are mentally exhausted often feel depressed, and those that are depressed feel mentally drained. Many symptoms, like lack of pleasure, sleep disturbance, and cognitive impairment overlap. However, the terms arent interchangeable. Depression needs to be diagnosed by a qualified mental health professional.
Physical versus mental exhaustion
If youve ever left the gym feeling exhausted but exhilarated, youve felt the difference between mental and physical exhaustion. Physical fatigue, like mental exhaustion, comes from prolonged stress but from stress on the body. This could be due to not getting enough sleep, an illness, or other physical strain.
Burnout versus mental exhaustion
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Being Overweight Or Underweight
Overweight increases the risk of fatigue by increasing the risk of conditions that have fatigue as a common symptom, such as diabetes or sleep apnea.
Carrying more weight and experiencing joint or muscle pain can lead to or exacerbate fatigue.
Similarly, people with underweight may tire easily, depending on the cause of their condition. Eating disorders, cancer, chronic diseases, and an overactive thyroid can all cause weight loss, as well as excessive tiredness and fatigue.
The Truth About Adrenal Fatigue
For the most part, when people speak about how stress causes fatigue, its the story of adrenal fatigue.
You have probably heard the adrenal fatigue story before. It goes something like this: The adrenal glands produce stress hormones to respond to periods of stress, but when the stress becomes chronic, the adrenal glands get tired and fatigued so they cant keep up with the demands. Then when you have adrenal fatigue, you get all sorts of symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, brain fog, and trouble sleeping. Thats the common way of thinking about how stress causes fatigue. Basically, for most people, its all about the adrenals.
Contrary to popular belief, and as I am about to show you, your adrenal glands are only a small part of the overall story of how stress causes fatigue.
It turns out that there are over a dozen physiological pathways in the body that can be a bridge between stress and health problems, and most of them have nothing to with fatigued adrenal glands. Its perfectly possible for stress to cause fatigue without anything being wrong with ones adrenal glands or cortisol levels.
So if it is not fatigued adrenals that explains how stress causes fatigue, then what is?
There are 16 mechanisms that stress can damage your energy levels. Once you understand the real mechanisms behind how stress causes fatigue, you are equipped with the knowledge to actually fix the problems.
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Why Am I Tired All The Time
Feeling exhausted is so common that it has its own acronym, TATT, which stands for “tired all the time”.
We all feel tired from time to time. The reasons are usually obvious and include:
- too many late nights
- long hours spent at work
- a baby keeping you up at night
But tiredness or exhaustion that goes on for a long time is not normal. It can affect your ability to get on and enjoy your life.
Unexplained tiredness is one of the most common reasons for people to see their GP.
Home Remedies For Fatigue
The following home remedies may help reduce fatigue:
- eating smaller meals and healthful snacks every 34 hours
- gradually decreasing caffeine intake over the course of 3 weeks
- limiting alcohol intake and avoiding alcohol before bedtime
- drinking more water to prevent dehydration and associated fatigue
- gradually increasing physical activity
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Appetite Changes And Weight Gain
Changes in appetite are common during times of stress.
When you feel stressed out, you may find yourself with no appetite at all or overeating without noticing.
One small 2006 study of 272 female college students found that 81 percent reported that they experienced changes in appetite when they were stressed out, with 62 percent stating they had an increase in appetite .
Changes in appetite may also cause fluctuations in weight during stressful periods. For example, a study involving 1,355 people in the United States found that stress was associated with weight gain in adults already living with extra weight .
A third study from 2017 found that individuals with higher cortisol and insulin levels and higher levels of chronic stress were more likely to gain weight in the future . However, the study was limited in the scope of research in that participants were predominantly white females.
While these studies show an association between stress and changes in appetite or weight, more studies are needed to understand other possible factors are involved and how stress impacts different people.
Stress Causes Fatigue By Causing Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is now being linked as a causal factor in hundreds of diseases.
Despite that, the truth is that inflammation isnt all bad. Its actually an important natural biological response to many threatening agents such as microscopic invaders . Its also part of our bodys response to wounds, infections and many disease processes. The main purpose it serves is to eliminate dead and damaged cells, which is a critical process to repair those tissues back to normal. So, inflammation is a very important and beneficial thing in our bodies. Indeed, we could not live without it.
But chronic inflammation is another story altogether. In normal healthy circumstances, the inflammation response happens rapidly and then goes away when no longer needed, after a few hours or a few days. But when it does not go away, that is when things get bad
Mood problems, fatigue, fat gain, weird symptoms popping up.
With chronic inflammation, all sorts of things go wrong with our body. And chronic stress is a major cause of chronic inflammation.
If you know anything about the physiology of stress, it might seem counterintuitive that stress increases inflammation, because it is known that cortisol is actually anti-inflammatory. But with chronic stress, the body loses the ability to regulate inflammation properly and the situation changes dramatically
And it has a very clear and direct impact on our energy levels by shutting down orexin levels. .
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Too Tired To Function The Surprising Link Between Fatigue And Hormones
Do you spend most of your time feeling tired, sluggish, exhausted? Is it an effort just to get out of bed each morning and even more difficult to get through the day? Even when youve had a good nights sleep do you still feel like you need a nap by the afternoon, or worse, by mid-morning?
Fatigue is no joke and certainly not something to be swept under the rug. If you are feeling tired all the time it means that something in your body is not working as it should.
What you might be surprised to learn is that a common cause of fatigue is hormonal imbalance.
What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated disease for doctors to diagnose and even fully understand.
CFS is a physical condition, but it can also affect a person emotionally. This means that someone with CFS may feel physical symptoms, such as:
- extreme fatigue
But the person may also notice emotional symptoms, such as a loss of interest in favorite activities.
Also, different people with CFS can have different symptoms. Many CFS symptoms are similar to those of other health conditions, like mono, Lyme disease, or depression. And the symptoms can vary over time, even in the same person.
This makes treating the illness complicated. No single medicine or treatment can address all the possible symptoms.
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Your Sleep Rhythm Is Disturbed
Often, we only focus on how long we sleep. You should try to get somewhere between seven and eight hours a night. This is very important because people who are continually sleep deprived tend to put on weight.
However, we frequently forget that our sleep rhythm also plays a crucial role. This means that if you constantly go to bed at different times , this can have a negative impact on your health .
Do you feel especially wiped out in spring or fall? It could be due to daylight savings time. Give your internal clock time to get used to the time change this can take up to two weeks.
Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Fatigue
When it comes to fatigue, most people are more likely to examine their sleep patterns than their stress levels which could explain why the psychological side of fatigue gets so overlooked. Its easier for us to blame our feelings of exhaustion on something more concrete a poor nights sleep, low iron levels, menopause etc. but, while these are noticeable triggers, how youre feeling can often explain why your energy levels are slumping.
This can be seen in a study by the University of Leipzig, examining the determinants of fatigue and stress. Here, an analysis of 2,483 participants revealed that fatigue was strongly linked to higher stress levels1, but the question I want to look at is why? Well, to answer this, we first have to look at the other pre-existing symptoms of stress that could be contributing to your sudden energy lag.
- Poor sleep: Poor sleep might be the most obvious cause of fatigue but its also a leading side effect of stress and anxiety. When you experience stress, it can upset your natural sleep cycle by promoting the secretion of cortisol, a steroid hormone that enhances your alertness and makes you feel more awake. When cortisol is circulating in your bloodstream, it impacts your production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, thus making it more difficult for you to fall, and remain, asleep
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