Feeling Tired all the Time?

Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Feeling tired all the time? Changed your diet, trying a new exercise routine, had your blood tests done and all fine? Not sure what to do next?

It might be time to consider your mental health.

Psychological issues connected to feeling tired

Fatigue and exhaustion are symptoms of many psychological issues, including:

Relationship problems can also lead to fatigue. If we never set boundaries, or are codependent and spending all our time caring for others? We can not even realise how little time we are spending on self-care, and how much we are choosing to run ourselves ragged.

But I am actually physically exhausted not mentally

The mind and body are connected, and many mental health issues cause very real physical fatigue.

In the case of things like extreme stress, anxiety, and PTSD, for example, the brain triggers the fight, flight, or freeze mode, flooding the body with chemicals including cortisol and adrenaline. Once the ‘rush’ is over, your energy levels can nose dive and you can feel quite dizzy and weak.

Depression and feeling tired all the time

Fatigue is often one of the first signs of depression. Depression sufferers explain the way they feel as things like ‘moving through sand’, ‘feeling weighed down’, ‘my legs are made of lead’. And often they oversleep and struggle to want to get out of bed.

How do I know if my fatigue is actually depression?

Look for other signs of depression as well. This includes things like:

  • lacking interest in activities you usually like
  • not wanting to see friends or go out
  • negative, ‘doom and gloom’ thinking
  • changes in eating habits
  • differences in libido.

Why does depression cause fatigue for so many?

Sleep problems and depression are so interlinked it can sometimes be hard to say which one proceeds the other. We are feeling a bit low or stressed so don't sleep well, then we feel properly depressed. Or was it that we hadn't slept well and that's why life felt overwhelming to begin with?

Depression can also trigger poor health habits like overeating or upping alcohol intake. And these sorts of things take a toll on our energy as well.

Then there is the 'brain fog' many depression sufferers report leaves them feeling tired and disconnected. A recent 2019 study has linked brain fog in those with illness to inflammation, which is interesting. But there has been no study as yet looking at whether different types of depression occur at the same time as inflammation.

Is chronic fatigue connected to mental health?

So tired your life is increasingly put on hold? Not able to navigate your job or simple day to day tasks? Fibromyalgia and chronc fatigue syndrome (CFS) are now classified as neurological conditions by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This is an improvement from the years of sufferers being told that their illness was 'all in their head'.

That siad, mental health is felt to be connected, and the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as an intervention for chronic fatigue syndrome.

Can therapy help if I feel tired all the time?

Yes. At the very minimum it can mean you stop beating yourself up for feeling tired, and learn better ways of lowering stress and anxiety.

And if your fatigue is due to constantly making poor choices that go against your values, choosing unhealthy relationships, or unprocessed trauma? Therapy might seem to add to the exhaustion at first, but with time and commitment it can raise your energy levels (and your self-esteem) entirely.

Ready to reclaim your energy and your life? Find a therapist you like now and get started.

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