Does your anxiety make you feel super tired all the time?
If so, I have been there. I’ve been there so hard, seriously. I have spent years fighting to figure out the causes of my fatigue, so I fully understand what you’re going through.
They’ve tested my vitamin B and D levels. My iron. I’ve done sleep studies. Drank more caffeine. Then less caffeine. Worked out. Not worked out.
Trust me, I have tried it all.
Fatigue is really tricky because it can be caused by so many things. That’s why it’s important to keep fighting even when you feel like you’ve run out of options.
Did you know that your chronic fatigue might be caused by anxiety?
Even though I have yet to get definite, 100% answers for why I’m so tired, I definitely notice it’s worse when I’m anxious.
In this post, I’m going to talk about the symptoms of chronic fatigue and its side effects, and why anxiety makes you tired in the first place. Keep reading to find out my best tips for fighting the yawn when you feel so damn exhausted.
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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.
8 chronic fatigue symptoms
Chronic fatigue has actually been classified as its own illness (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Enchephalomyelitis, or CFS/ME). That’s how devastating the symptoms are. They deserved their own label!
That might make what you’re going through sound bleak, but I think the opposite is true. While fatigue is still incredibly hard to diagnose and pinpoint the cause of, I think a lot of researchers and medical professionals are slowly getting a better understanding. They still have a long way to go, but there is information and support out there.
According to the NHS, there are 8 symptoms that point to chronic fatigue:
- sleep problems
- muscle or joint pain
- a sore throat or sore glands that are not swollen
- problems thinking, remembering or concentrating
- flu-like symptoms
- feeling dizzy or sick
- fast or irregular heartbeats (heart palpitations)
People might experience one of these when they’re tired all the time, or they might have multiple symptoms. For me, I get sleep disturbances and joint/muscle pain, but I also feel more irritable when I’m tired. The experience is different for everyone.
And remember, the reasons why doctors have such a hard time diagnosing fatigue is that many of these symptoms are so vague. They could be related to more than one illness. So, it’s really important to be patient when you’re seeking treatment. It can take years to get answers.
While these symptoms majorly mess with your quality of life, poor sleep/chronic fatigue itself can also lead to a variety of medical conditions. Keep reading to find out what they are!
What constant tiredness leads to
We need to make sure that we are doing what we can to feel rested. Even if it’s just adding an additional 15-20 minutes of self care to your evening routine. The NHS says that quality sleep and managing exhaustion can have the following positive health benefits.
- Boosts immunity. Obviously, this is more critical than ever with the Covid pandemic still creating havoc in our day to day lives.
- Can help with weight loss. I’m not a big fan of diet culture, but if there is a legitimate medical reason why you need to lose weight, start by getting a good night’s sleep.
- Improves mental well-being. I know I’m in a way better mood when I feel more rested and energetic. How about you?
- Prevents diabetes. Diabetes can lead to a lot of complications, so it’s always good to prevent it in whatever way we can!
- Increases sex drive. If you’re tired because of depression or anxiety, you likely need a little help in this area anyway. So there ya go.
- Decreases risk of heart disease. Again, this is something you want to work hard to avoid anyway.
- Improves fertility. I don’t recall ever hearing this until I wrote this article, so even I learned something new.
I know that everyone reading this can relate to worrying about at least one of those things. Which ones would motivate you the most to work on your sleep habits?
Why does anxiety make you tired?
Now, we’ve made it to the question you’re probably all asking: Why does anxiety make you tired in the first place?
According to Healthy Place, there are 4 key reasons why anxiety might make you feel exhausted.
Sleep disorders – Problems with sleep are one of the most common side-effects of anxiety disorder, which very quickly makes you tired.
High tension levels – Anxious people tend to have a hard time relaxing, which leads to tiredness. Most people with anxiety benefit greatly from some sort of regular relaxation therapy.
Worry / mental exhaustion – Whirling, anxious thoughts are typical with anxiety, but these thoughts are often not trustworthy.
Depression – There’s a strong relationship between depression and anxiety, and depression is notorious for sapping your mental and physical reserves.
For me, it is the bottom 3! My kids leave me super stressed sometimes, and obviously moms worry and think nonstop. Plus, I have depression on top of anxiety.
Which one of these sounds the most like you? Let me know in the comments!
4 of the best tips for treating chronic fatigue from anxiety
Healthline has a lot of great resources for treating chronic fatigue. So keep reading to find out more. That being said, it’s important to remember the following:
- If chronic fatigue often takes years to diagnose, it makes sense that it can take a long time to feel better. None of these solutions are fads or quick fixes, as I don’t believe in those. There is no shot or pill you can take that will instantly make you not tired anymore.
- Fatigue will come and go. If you live with chronic tiredness, you will have good days and bad days, even when you’re trying your hardest. Be kind to yourself, and keep the faith.
- What works for one person might be a total fail for someone else. That doesn’t mean you are a failure. It just means that your body is hardwired differently and is naturally more receptive to certain treatment methods. It also doesn’t mean that particular treatment option is bad or invalid. It just doesn’t vibe with you.
Now, let’s talk about the ways to manage tiredness.
I am always a huge advocate that movement and exercise do wonders for both your mental and physical health. Personally, if I am anxious or blue, I can get in a good 20 minute walk on the treadmill, and I feel better. I’m not cured obviously, but it provides dopamine and endorphins that my brain has a hard time making by itself.
That being said, when you live with chronic tiredness you might experience something called post-exertion malaise. This is really common, and by no means indicates that you’re some kind of freak of nature.
What this means is that if you overdo it physically, it can make the fatigue even worse. If this is the case for you, then learning pacing can be a really helpful tool.
Basically, pacing just means learning to time your physical activity appropriately for the way your body works. You can do this in the following ways:
- Getting your mood boosting exercise in when you naturally feel more energy
- Resting before and/or after any demanding physical activity
- Listening to your body tell you when enough is enough
It can take some time to get the hang of it, so journaling about your energy levels might help as well.
Now, some of these are gonna sting. They’re tough pills to swallow, but experts recommend avoiding some of the following substances:
These are depressants (alcohol) and stimulants (nicotine and caffeine). Any time you consume too many of these things, it can throw your body and emotional health out of whack. So use them with moderation, and pay attention to how you feel afterwards.
Experts also recommend avoiding naps if possible. I can absolutely testify to naps making your sleep weird at night. But if you are so tired that you absolutely need to snooze during the day, then try to keep it to 30 minutes or so.
It also helps to create a routine around your sleep schedule. Ask yourself these questions:
- What time do I go to bed?
- How long before I go to bed do I eat?
- When do I stop drinking caffeine?
- When do I exercise?
- What sorts of self care rituals do I perform before bed?
- Is my bedroom quiet and clutter free?
All of these factors can help you create a routine that your mind can adapt to with a little time and dedication.
If your fatigue is caused by anxiety, there are definitely medications you can try to manage that. Your doctor might prescribe an antidepressant or antianxiety medication, or a prescription sleep medication.
There are also some over the counter alternatives you can try with your doctor’s guidance. (It’s always good to run it past your primary care physician to be sure.)
- Vitamin B during the day
- Vitamin D
- Melatonin at night
Click the image above to order a helpful supplement!
You can even ask your doctor for lab work that will let you know if you have any vitamin/nutrient deficiencies that can exacerbate fatigue or anxiety. In my case, it was the Vitamin D and Iron Chaos Team!
Some people consider this stuff woo-woo, but I love trying all natural relaxation and antianxiety techniques. Lots of people swear by yoga, tai chi, and meditation to relax you before bed time.
For a long time I thought this stuff was BS, but when I tried it, I actually found that it helped a little. Again, none of these things are cures, and I’m leery of anyone who says they can cure anxiety.
But give them a try! You never know if they might give you some relief. Here is a video for meditation and a video for yoga to get you started if you aren’t sure where to begin.
It is possible to feel better.
Try not to allow yourself to feel discouraged. I understand how frustrating living with excessive tiredness can be. As I mentioned, I’ve lived with it for years, and it still flares up from time to time.
My best advice? Practice good daily self care, and self acceptance. Learn to treat your body the way it deserves, and give yourself the love it requires to be happy. Don’t let your fatigue make you fall into a cycle of shame and self-destructive behaviors.
The worst thing you can do is totally give up and begin giving in to all the harmful things your anxiety and depression want you to do and feel. Do not listen. Do not give in. You might feel closer to your illness than to most of your friends, but don’t be fooled. It is not your friend and it is not helpful.
You deserve to live a rich, full life filled with laughter and joy, but the change starts with you.