The Royal College of Psychiatrists say that at any one time 20% of people in the community feel unusually tired and 10% have prolonged fatigue. They also state that women are more likely to feel tired than men.
When queried, many GPs say that they rarely find anything wrong with the patient physically and it is common for fatigue to be connected to mood and a mixture of life’s smaller stresses. They also state that tiredness is one of the most common complaints they deal with. Many patients complain of feeling exhausted, yet they admit to having lots of good quality sleep and they say the feeling of fatigue and tiredness has been present for several months.
When confronted with these symptoms doctors normally look for other indications too. There’s more chance of the cause being a medical reason if there are other symptoms as well, such as heavy periods, a change in bowel habits, hair loss, weight loss, extreme thirst and so on. As a matter of routine, GPs will take a blood sample from these patients to eliminate conditions like hypothyroidism (under active thyroid) or if they have a blood deficiency such as anaemia.
An individual trying to understand why they have become tired may find it helpful to consider the following scenarios. Different areas of life can tire you out, for example, too much overtime or dealing with family or young children. If you have recently had an experience relating to a family or friend’s death or are overcoming divorce. Finally, is there anything in your life that you are doing that is causing you to become tired?
You can feel fatigued for many medical reasons. The well known and best understood conditions like thyroid problems or anaemia are easily dealt with. Undiagnosed diabetes and the body reacting to certain foods can also cause a person to feel tired too.
If you are obese or malnourished you may be feeling lethargic and tired. An overweight or underweight body must work harder to carry out any action. If the body is malnourished there is less muscle on a smaller lighter body so this leads to some people becoming fatigued earlier. Pregnant women and those breastfeeding are also working their bodies harder than usual. This can also lead to tiredness.
Psychological tiredness is far more prevalent that any forms of fatigue caused by physical problems. Anxiety is a major psychological cause of tiredness, often leading to an inability to sleep leading to constant fatigue. The Mental Health Foundation carried out a survey which identified that about 33% of the populace are severely sleep deprived. The common reasons for this are that many people have job or money worries. A link between insomnia and low energy has been suggested in the “Sleep Matters” report commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation.
Just living a normal life without any negative issues impacting upon you can still tire some people. Marriage or moving home is normally a positive experience yet these activities can leave some people exhausted. Bad news, a death in the family or divorce are common reasons for feeling fatigued. Depression or anxiety generally makes you feel more exhausted. The inability to sleep also aggravates tiredness. Someone who regularly drinks too much tends to wake up through the night. Heavy drinkers are also susceptible to depression. Many doctors express surprise at the number of heavy drinkers they see complaining of these symptoms.
If you are a shift worker or have young children then your sleep pattern will almost certainly be disturbed. Because of this difficulty in getting a good sleep means that you will be sleepy throughout the day.
It is a very common experience to feel tired. However if you visit your GP then you can eliminate any medical causes and get some good advice too. This visit can rule out anything serious, just knowing that there’s nothing wrong can be reassuring in itself.
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