Anxiety Could be Contributing to Your Fatigue

Most tired people recognize the feelings of anxiousness they get as they worry about their condition. But did you know that fatigue can actually be caused by anxiety?

anxious businessman

There are so many different factors in life that can cause fatigue that it can sometimes be difficult to accurately pinpoint exactly which ones are at fault. To make matters even more complicated, many of the emotions and effects we often associate with fatigue can themselves cause fatigue – which can sometimes have you wondering which came first. Take anxiety, for instance; while it can be a symptom associated with fatigue, it can also be a cause for your exhaustion.

Examining Anxiety

Anxiety is an emotion that all humans encounter at one point or another in their lives. It can appear in many forms, ranging from mild nervousness to outright terror. In most instances, these emotions are relatively benign. In fact, they often serve a beneficial purpose that can serve as an early warning system of sorts. It is only when they become part of a larger disorder that they can become particularly distressing and even health-threatening.

Mild Anxiety Can Be Good!

Remember how you felt the last time you were nervous before taking an exam at school – or how you felt a little hesitant before you crossed that busy street? That was anxiety, and it was your brain and body reacting to situations in a perfectly normal way. That pre-test nervousness can actually help you to focus on taking the test by directing all your attention to it. In like manner, being nervous in a potentially dangerous situation can literally save your life by increasing your awareness of everything that is happening around you.

Anxiety Disorders

There are many different types of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, social anxiety, a wide range of phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder. They all share some common symptoms, such as:

  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Erratic heart beats
  • Restlessness
  • Increased muscle tension
  • Dizziness or other loss of equilibrium
  • Numbness in your extremities
  • A shortness of breath
  • General feelings of uneasiness or panic

What Causes Anxiety Disorders?

Researchers have yet to determine precisely how these anxieties are formed, but do tend to agree that they are somehow related to brain function and environmental stressors. Great attention is thus given to the brain circuits that manage things like the fear response, as well as other emotions. When under stress for prolonged periods of time, those areas of the brain appear to change the manner in which they transmit information. The condition can also be caused by severe stress, and appears to have a genetic component as well.

How Does Anxiety Make you Tired?

If you’ve ever been extremely worried about anything, then you know just how exhausting it can be to suffer that level of anxiety for any lengthy period of time. Anxiety heightens your most extreme emotions, and your body responds to that on a hormonal level. As part of the natural response to that anxiety, your body releases a surge of adrenaline, which is designed to help you survive whatever dangerous situation your brain believes that it has encountered. All of this is due to the actions of the sympathetic nervous system, which is designed to initiate our natural fight or flight instinct when danger rears its head.

In other words, your body reacts to anxious feelings the same way it responds to any other stressor: through the stress response. That means adrenaline races, cortisol is sent out in higher amounts, and other systems are shut down as the body focuses only on those functions it sees as necessary for survival of the whole. When that stressor has passes, it can take days for your systems to return to a normal state. That leads to fatigue. And when you’re anxious continually, your body never gets the rest it needs.

Add to that the sleeplessness that anxious thoughts can cause and you can quickly see why this condition can easily cause the type of complete exhaustion fatigued patients experience.

How Can You Deal With Anxiety?

The good news is that there are treatment plans that can help you if you suffer from anxiety. The exact nature of any therapy will depend upon the severity and type of anxiety you are experiencing, of course, which makes consultation with a physician or psychologist critical. Therapies and treatments basically come in three varieties: education and lifestyle changes, medications, and counseling. Often times, they are used in combination with one another to provide a more comprehensive treatment plan.

Education and Lifestyle Changes

Education involves learning as much about your condition as possible. That can often be the most critical part of understanding why you react to life the way you do, and learning how to better manage your thoughts and responses. Meditation and other relaxation techniques can assist with that process as well, as you learn to gain control over your emotions. Diet, exercise, and managing your exposure to stress are also critical.


Medication options can range from antidepressants to beta blockers that just focus on the physical symptoms of anxiety. Medications of this nature require a doctor’s prescription, so you may want to try other alternatives before resorting to pharmaceutical solutions. Note also that there are a variety of different herbal remedies that have proven affective for many people suffering from this condition.


Counseling is a critical part of most anxiety treatment plans. A good therapist can help you to develop the cognitive and behavioral skills you’ll need to battle against any severe cases of anxiety. In addition, they can offer useful advice on how to cope with the physical side effects of the condition. While milder cases of anxiety don’t always require this approach, it is considered vital for the treatment of moderate and severe conditions.

Anxiety is a natural feeling that everyone experiences to one degree or another. As such, there is no shame attached to this condition. However, chronic and severe anxiety is not something that you should just choose to live with, either. It is a serious condition that can not only make you fatigued, but can affect you in many other physical ways as well. Because of that fact, you should always seek immediate treatment when you believe that you’re suffering from the affects of anxiety.

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