Tiredness… exhaustion… fatigue, no matter how you may refer to it, this symptom of anxiety zaps away energy and motivation. Fatigue can be mild or severe, it can be bothersome only sometimes or can be pervasive. With fatigue, a person does not have the energy to begin, accomplish or follow through on tasks. In addition, the person may be completely exhausted once a task is completed.
Fatigue, however, is different than drowsiness. When someone is drowsy, they feel they must sleep, with fatigue it is a lack of energy and motivation. Drowsiness, although different than fatigue, can be a result of fatigue.
Being tired and lacking energy, although a symptom of anxiety, can also signal a more serious medical condition. Fatigue is also natural response to exercise, to having sleep interrupted, or to emotional situations and therefore, when we feel tired we may not equate it with a physical or emotional illness. If making changes in your daily routine, such as getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthy or reducing stress, do not help to alleviate fatigue, it might be time to see your doctor.
Keeping a daily diary can help your doctor determine the causes of fatigue. For example, if you continuously wake up during the night or are having a hard time falling asleep, it is important for the doctor to know about your insomnia. However, if your fatigue occurs even with a good night’s sleep, your doctor needs to know that. Thyroid conditions are one such physical condition that can cause fatigue. Tiredness can also accompany medical conditions, such as cancer, kidney disease or heart disease. Letting your doctor know all of your symptoms and sharing a diary of when you are most fatigued will help him or her determine what may be causing your tiredness and how to best help you.
Medications can also be a cause of fatigue. Make sure your doctor is aware of all medications you may be taking. If tiredness is interfering with your daily routines, your doctor may want to adjust your dosage to help relieve the fatigue.
Many times, treating the underlying cause of the fatigue will help to alleviate feeling tired or exhausted. In addition, there are some lifestyle changes that can often help:
Include exercise in your daily routine. Exercise helps to reduce stress, decreases insomnia and improves an overall feeling of wellness.
Schedule periods of rest in your day. Sit quietly, meditate or take a short nap (although people with insomnia may want to avoid naps to avoid not being able to sleep at night.)
Use music to help increase energy levels.
Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Adults should get between 7 and 10 hours of sleep each night. Make sure your schedule allows adequate sleep. If you can’t fall asleep, get up and engage in a quiet activity, such as reading, until you become sleepy and then go back to bed.
Keep your bedroom dark and keep the temperature moderate, avoiding extreme temperatures of either too cold or too hot.
Avoid caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea or colas, as much as possible. Do not drink beverages containing caffeine after 4:00 P.M., if you do drink them.
Avoid alcohol. Although alcohol is a sedative, it can stop you from receiving a deep, restful sleep.
Spend time each day doing things you enjoy. Take time to do gardening or another hobby you find pleasurable.
Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
Cut down on stressful activities. Although it is impossible to live without stress, it may be possible to reduce some of the more stressful activities in your life.
There are many different causes of fatigue, it is important to talk with your doctor to determine the correct diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis and treatment will help immensely in alleviating symptoms of fatigue.
“Recognizing and Dealing With Fatigue”, Date Unknown, Jody Welborn, M.D., HowToBeFit.com
“Fatigue”, Updated 2007, July 17, Updated by Robert Hurd, M.D., Medline Encyclopedia, National Institute of Health
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.