Fatigue is defined as extreme tiredness that can occur on both a mental and physical level. Exhausted, weary, tired, and lethargic are all words that are commonly used to describe fatigue. It is a state of persistent and unyielding exhaustion that isn’t eased by rest. It is a symptom that develops over time that can significantly decrease a person’s motivation, energy, concentration, and overall quality of life.
Fatigue is typically linked to a person’s lifestyle habits. It is commonly related to a lack of exercise, and can also be linked to conditions such as depression and stress. Regular causes of fatigue include:
There are also certain conditions that are known to cause fatigue. These can include the following:
Fatigue generally appears in a gradual onset. Many times, a person will not realise they are tired until they feel completely depleted or exhausted. Some of the symptoms of fatigue a person can experience include:
Fatigue is often classified into three different concerns. These include:
Fatigue is considered a symptom of an underlying condition. It is necessary to identify the underlying condition causing fatigue before a treatment plan can be properly administered. The causes of fatigue can be mental, physical, or a combination of both.
Finding the cause of fatigue is done by a medical professional. It typically involves a complete medical history, including questions about the quality and quantity of fatigue the individual is experiencing. Alcohol and drug screening questions are also addressed, as fatigue is a common symptom of substance abuse. A full physical screening is also done to ensure there are no underlying medical conditions. Blood tests may also be taken to determine the cause of a person’s fatigue.
The treatment a person receives is dependent upon the underlying cause for the fatigue they are experiencing. Lifestyle changes can play a big role in treating fatigue. Eating well, staying hydrated, and getting regular exercise can help a person overcome fatigue. Avoiding drugs and alcohol, excessive amounts of caffeine, and getting regular rest can also help.
Engaging in various techniques to manage and reduce stress can also help with fatigue. For those experiencing fatigue due to depression, antidepressants can help, but aren’t considered a stand-alone treatment for fatigue.
When fatigue is considered a symptom, it means that it can be caused by several different things. Because fatigue has a gradual onset, it can be difficult to realise something is wrong. It is therefore difficult to prevent fatigue from occurring.
Yes. Being overweight causes the need for more physical exertion to do regular tasks, which is something that can lead to fatigue. Consequently, being underweight can also cause fatigue.
Everyone suffers from fatigue for different reasons. One of the main however, is due to inactivity. Getting regular exercise can help a person overcome fatigue and increase their energy levels.
Stress, anxiety, and worry are all emotions that can cause a person to feel tired. Clinically diagnosed depression, such as major depressive disorder, can both cause fatigue and be a symptom of it.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017
Fatigue, Mayo Clinic
Fatigue, MedicineNet, Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM & Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD