Chronic tiredness is a condition that afflicts far more people than you’d care to imagine. But for many, tiredness is just a surface symptom of something else. It could be that you’re getting unrestful sleep and may not know it. Or you might have allergies that leave you exhausted. In some cases, this tiredness could even be masking a more significant health problem. Left unchecked, the underlying health issue could blow up into something worse. And that’s why it is a good idea to delve deeper and uncover the true reason for your tiredness, rather than just working around the exhaustion.
Just Tired, or Do You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition that persists for at least six months, leaving the person feeling extremely tired and unable to function normally. Unlike routine tiredness which is more of an annoyance, chronic tiredness or chronic fatigue is debilitating. It does not have one single cause. A combination of psychological and physiological factors results in the condition. Since the factors causing it are varied, treatment too must be addressed to deal with the underlying causes for each patient.
Sleep Disorders and Chronic Tiredness
Unrestful sleep and problems like sleep apnea or restless legs could leave you feeling tired after a night’s sleep. Sleep apnea was even found to be diagnosed as much on the basis of symptoms of tiredness or fatigue as of sleeplessness.
Restless legs syndrome affects 1 in 10 people and can result in aches and pains or jerking of the legs. This in turn can interrupt your sleep. As one study showed, even a single night of interrupted sleep can cause fatigue, depression, confusion, and a decline in vigor. The effects were just as bad as not getting enough sleep and would leave you very tired.
Mental or Psychological Conditions that Cause Tiredness
Besides the other signs of depression, tiredness and fatigue are present in an overwhelming number of individuals coping with depression, making it the most common “presenting symptom” of major depressive disorder (MDD). Even among those who have been treated for MDD, persistent tiredness or fatigue could be indicative of residual symptoms of depression. Certain medications may also cause the fatigue themselves.
Anxiety can also take its toll on your body. A generalized anxiety disorder can make you restless and tense. The constant worrying translates to sleep problems, and you may find yourself getting tired quite easily and often.
Health Conditions that Result in Tiredness
Besides these conditions, there are certain illnesses or disorders that are associated with fatigue.
- Celiac Disease: Besides anemia, weight loss, and diarrhea, most people with intolerance to gluten also report feeling extremely exhausted or fatigued.
- Anemia: Anyone who is anemic has a paucity of red blood cells. Their body cannot transport adequate oxygen to the various parts of the body, leading to complaints of chronic tiredness.
- Underactive Thyroid: Tiredness was a common complaint among subjects in a study on hypothyroidism.
- Diabetes: Fatigue is a regular problem for people living with diabetes, diagnosed or otherwise.
Someone who has overcome glandular fever may also find lingering symptoms of tiredness for months after.
Alternative Therapy for Chronic Tiredness
Yoga has benefits in directly addressing the problem of tiredness and also in treating the underlying issue. For instance, participants in one study on the impact of yoga on chronic insomnia showed statistically significant improvements in total sleep time, sleep onset latency, and sleep efficiency after practicing yoga for a few weeks. A similar study on the impact of yoga on breast cancer survivors who experienced fatigue yielded positive results as well.
Mainstream lasting treatment for chronic fatigue is limited. However, cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga, and acupressure massages may help provide the relaxation needed to achieve a good night’s rest and to give a general sense of calm.