Common Causes of Fatigue and How to Treat It

FatigueHormone ImbalanceLifestyle
by Karla Socci Somers

Do you feel like you could sleep for days? Do you often feel run down and have no energy? If so, you may be suffering from fatigue. 

Fatigue can be caused by many things, including stress, lack of sleep, unhealthy lifestyle habits, and medical conditions. Fortunately, there are many ways to treat fatigue. Read on for tips on fatigue treatment and learn how to get your energy back.

What is fatigue?

Fatigue is a feeling of tiredness or weakness that is not relieved by rest. Fatigue can also be described as a state of mental or physical exhaustion caused by juggling work and family commitments, not getting enough sleep, or dealing with a chronic illness. 

Most people have experienced fatigue at some point in their lives. It can make you feel listless, unmotivated, and unable to concentrate. In some cases, fatigue can be so severe that it impacts your ability to carry out everyday activities.

There are two main types of fatigue: physical and mental. Physical fatigue occurs when your body is unable to maintain physical activity. This can be due to a lack of sleep, illness, or overexertion. 

On the other hand, mental fatigue happens when your brain is unable to focus or concentrate. This can be caused by stress, anxiety, or depression.

Understanding what type of fatigue you are experiencing and what causes it is crucial for finding the proper treatment. So let’s explore the causes a little deeper.

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Is it sleepiness or fatigue? 

Before we delve into what causes fatigue, let’s answer this question: How do you know if you’re just sleepy or actually suffering from fatigue? It can be challenging to distinguish between drowsiness and fatigue, but some key differences exist. 

Sleepiness or drowsiness is a feeling that usually goes away after you’ve had a good night’s sleep. On the other hand, fatigue is a more general feeling of exhaustion that cannot be remedied by sleep alone. If you’re experiencing fatigue, you may doze off during the day, even with a full night’s sleep. 

Another key difference is that sleepiness is usually caused by a lack of sleep. In contrast, fatigue can be caused by many things, including stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic illness. 

Now that we’ve answered the question, let’s explore the causes of fatigue. 

What causes fatigue?

The causes of fatigue can be split into three main categories: 

  • Lifestyle 
  • Mental health
  • Physical health

By exploring these, you’ll learn a little more about the source of your fatigue and what you can do to treat it.

Lifestyle – If you’re frequently feeling tired, you’re not alone. Many people suffer from fatigue, which can have a variety of causes. For example, in today’s fast-paced world, it’s common to skimp on sleep and fuel your body with unhealthy foods. This can lead to a cycle of fatigue and poor eating habits, which can be challenging to break. 

Other lifestyle causes of fatigue include chronic stress, sedentary behavior, and drinking alcohol. While it’s normal to feel exhausted at times, talking to your doctor is important if you’re regularly struggling with fatigue. They can help you rule out any underlying medical conditions and develop a plan to improve your energy levels.

Some generally accepted lifestyle causes of fatigue are: 

  • Not getting enough sleep: Most people need around eight hours of sleep per night. If you’re regularly falling short of this, it can lead to fatigue.
  • Unhealthy eating habits: Eating a balanced diet is vital for maintaining your energy levels. If you’re not getting enough nutrients, it can lead to fatigue.
  • Chronic stress: Stress is often classified as a mental health issue, but it can take a toll on your body and lead to fatigue.
  • Sedentary behavior: Spending too much time sitting can lead to fatigue.
  • Drinking alcohol: Alcohol can interfere with your sleep and lead to dehydration, which can contribute to fatigue.
  • Medication: Some medications, such as sedatives and antidepressants, can cause fatigue as a side effect.

Mental health – When we think of fatigue, we often associate it with a physical cause like a lack of sleep or overexertion. However, fatigue can also be caused by mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

People who live with anxiety may constantly feel on edge, leading to difficulty sleeping and daytime tiredness. Depression can also cause fatigue and a loss of interest in activities, and a general feeling of malaise. 

PTSD can be another significant contributor to fatigue, particularly if the individual struggles with intrusive thoughts or nightmares. In addition, people who have ADHD may experience fatigue due to the constant effort required to focus and stay on task. 

If you regularly feel fatigued and think it may be due to a mental health condition, it’s essential to talk to your doctor or mental healthcare professional. They can assess your symptoms and provide you with the resources to help you feel better.

Physical health – In some cases, fatigue may be caused by an underlying medical condition that is either known to you or has yet to be diagnosed. This is why it is important to work with your medical professional to find out the cause of your fatigue. By discovering the root of the issue, you can work together to provide a more holistic solution that treats both the fatigue and the underlying condition. 

Some common physical health causes of fatigue include: 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) – CFS, or myalgic encephalomyelitis, is a debilitating condition affecting up to 2.5 million Americans that causes extreme fatigue. While the cause of CFS is unknown, it is thought to result from a combination of physical, mental, and lifestyle factors or possibly related to viral infections, immunodeficiency disorders, and hormonal imbalances.

Diagnosing CFS is often difficult, as there is no one specific test for the condition. Instead, doctors will typically rule out other potential causes of fatigue before diagnosing CFS. Treatment for CFS is also tricky, as there is no cure. However, there are ways to manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life. 

What does fatigue feel like?

Fatigue symptoms can vary depending on the individual and the underlying cause. However, there are some general symptoms that are commonly associated with fatigue, such as: 

  • Body aches, sore muscles or stiffness
  • Headache
  • Vision issues, such as blurry vision or trouble focusing
  • Dizziness and problems with balance
  • Gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, constipation or diarrhea
  • Sleep problems, such as insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Loss of motivation and increased apathy
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Difficulty concentrating, focusing or learning new things
  • Brain fog or feeling forgetful
  • Increased irritability, moodiness or quickness to anger
  • Sadness or depression

It’s important to note that symptoms may come and go, typically presenting themselves most intensely after periods of physical or mental exertion. And they also tend to worsen the longer you live with fatigue.

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When should you see a professional about fatigue?

If you are struggling with fatigue, it’s important to talk to a professional. They can perform a physical exam and order tests to rule out any potential underlying medical causes. If they cannot find a physical cause, they may refer you to a mental health professional for further evaluation. 

In some cases, fatigue may be due to physical and mental factors. In these cases, it’s important to work with both your doctor and a mental health professional to find the best treatment plan. 

What are some solutions for dealing with fatigue?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for treating fatigue. The best approach will vary depending on the underlying cause. However, some general strategies and adjustments can help.

1) Get Enough Sleep – One of the most important things you can do for your overall health is make sure you’re getting enough sleep. And when dealing with fatigue, it’s one of the best places to start. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can lead to fatigue. Here are some quick tips for better sleep.

  • No screens: Turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes before bed. The blue light from screens can interfere with your body’s natural sleep cycles.
  • Establish a bedtime routine: Doing the same things each night before bed can help to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
  • Create a relaxing sleep environment: Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Consider investing in an eye mask and earplugs if needed. 

2) Lifestyle Changes – If the route of your fatigue is caused by lifestyle issues, the best solution is to make some changes to your lifestyle. Here are some that you should consider:

  • Get moving: Exercising at least three times a week for 30 minutes can help to increase your energy levels and improve your overall health.
  • Eat healthy foods: Eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help to give you the nutrients you need to boost your energy levels. Avoid sugary and processed foods, as they can lead to a quick spike in energy followed by an inevitable crash.
  • Cut back on caffeine: While caffeine can give you a temporary energy boost, it can also lead to anxiety and irritability. So if you find that you’re relying on caffeine to get through the day, it may be time to cut back. 

3) Talk to a Mental Health Professional – If you’re struggling with fatigue caused by mental health issues, talking to a mental health professional such as a therapist or coach can be a helpful solution. They can help you identify any negative thought patterns or behaviors that may contribute to your fatigue and provide you with tools to help you cope. Here are some differences between working with a coach versus a therapist:

  • Working with a coach: A coach is someone who will help you to identify your goals and create a plan to achieve them. They’re future-focused, using your behavior as information to develop strategies to overcome challenges and barriers like living with fatigue. They will provide you with support and accountability, but won’t offer any formal therapy. 
  • Working with a therapist: A therapist is a mental health professional who can provide you with a diagnosis and formal treatment plan. In addition, they will work with you to address any underlying mental health issues that may be causing your fatigue. In some cases, they may also provide medication management. 

4) Seek Medical Treatment – If your fatigue is due to a medical condition, you should seek treatment from your doctor or holistic healthcare professional. They will be able to identify any underlying health issues and develop a treatment plan to help address them. You can choose to see your family doctor or opt for a consultation with a holistic health practitioner. 

Aside from treating underlying causes, these providers can also recommend solutions for discovering and treating more general causes of fatigue. 

  • Nutritional support – In some cases, you may need a regimen of personalized supplements to deal with specific deficiencies. These can be prescribed by a holistic care provider or a qualified nutritionist. 
  • Hormone testing and BHRT – Hormone testing at home is an easy way to get started with finding out if your fatigue is caused by hormonal imbalances. You can also talk to your doctor about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), which can help alleviate hormonal imbalance symptoms. 
  • Acupuncture – This traditional Chinese medicine practice has been used for centuries to treat various conditions, including fatigue. Acupuncture works by stimulating the body’s energy pathways, or meridians, to restore balance and promote healing. 

You Can Get Your Energy Back

Fatigue can be caused by many things, but that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it. You can take steps to figure out the root causes of the problem so you can manage your fatigue. It may take some time and patience, but you can get your energy back with the right diagnosis and treatment plan. We hope this article has helped give you a better understanding of fatigue and its possible causes. If you have any questions or want more information about how hormone testing or BHRT can help with fatigue, please contact us. We’re here to help!