Who would like more energy? Who would like to be less tired? What causes fatigue?…We all feel tired from time to time of course, but ongoing fatigue is not normal and should be taken seriously by all of us…

The problem of fatigue is a very real one indeed. It affects many people but there are many possible causes so it is really important that you do not take casual advice from someone who says something like “….well my problem was xxx and I’m sure if you do what I did…”. This might be very well meant but is likely to lead you astray. The trick is to understand that you are unique, you need to understand why YOU are so tired. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Lack of sleep. Now this might seem silly (obvious) but the reality is that many people just do not sleep enough. Adults need 7-8 hours a night every night. Get less and get tired. Many folks seem to feel that they can “do with less” or “train myself to manage with less sleep” but all the good research suggests these ideas are just not realistic. So please do not con yourself.
  • Medical problems like anaemia, thyroid disorders, diabetes, etc. Almost any medical condition can cause fatigue and many will only be detected by proper examinations and tests.
  • Psychological and emotional problems like anxiety, depression, excessive stress, etc. This is much more common than many people realise – for example, many depressed people find that fatigue and low-energy is the main initial symptom.
  • Drugs and Alcohol. Many drugs cause disturbed sleep patterns and alcohol is well known to cause initial sleepiness but poor sleep after a few hours. Over-the-counter medicines can cause these problems too sometimes, so it is not just about illicit or illegal drugs.
  • Not eating well and not exercising can cause or worsen fatigue although checking on the items listed above first is usually a good plan.

So as you can hopefully see this sort of tiredness problem should be taken seriously. A proper medical check-up is the first step and during this you should have a good chat with your doctor about other possible causes. In this way you can find the cause and you can start to feel more energised!

What about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS, also known as  myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME) is a recognised medical condition characterised by ongoing tiredness that is not explained by any known cause (lifestyle, exertion, medical condition, etc.) and causes significant quality of life impairment. CFS affects about 1% of people at any one time, is ill-understood and the cause is not known. A large number of treatments have been tried but there is very little or even no evidence of proven effective treatment. A full medical check up to exclude medical causes is important. Depression must be considered, either as an underlying cause and or as a resulting complication of CFS.

NOTE: so-called energy drinks and tonics (including coffee and caffeine) can be helpful in the short-term (for a few hours) to get you through a crisis or a deadline but they do nothing to address the underlying problem and may even make things worse long-term (dependency can develop) so please do not see these as the answer to fatigue.

Fatigue is a common, almost universal (at some time in life) complaint. The list of possible causes is almost endless, so a proper medical check-up is the place to start. After that it is likely that lifestyle and life balance changes will be the best solutions for most people.