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The Mental Health and Body Connection
You know that feeling, when you are dragging yourself through your days, foggy headed and listless, and even a strong cup of coffee doesn’t seem to perk you up. Feeling a lack of energy or mental clarity now and then is a normal part of the ebb and flow of life, but feeling chronically tired is a sign that something else is going on.
If your doctor has ruled out a medical reason, such as thyroid malfunction, anemia, or fibromyalgia, then checking in with a psychotherapist should be the next order of business. Why a therapist? It is very common for a mental health disorder, even a mild version of depression or anxiety, to sap our energy and leave us chronically exhausted.
If the problem is anxiety causing chronic fatigue, which can be determined during an interview with the therapist, then the next step back to wellness is to figure out how feelings of anxiety are depleting your reserves. Examining these sources of fear or worry and then learning how to better manage them is the best way to overcome the anxiety causing chronic fatigue symptoms.
Can Anxiety Lead to Fatigue
If you wonder how anxiety might lead to a chronic lack of energy, consider the way the body responds to persistent worry. When something is causing us to ruminate incessantly over worst-case scenarios or constantly trying to anticipate potential catastrophes, our body produces higher levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Perpetually elevated stress hormones fatigues the mind and the body, depleting our energy reserves and leaving us feeling worn out from constant worry.
Continually fretting over what-ifs elevates the fight or flight response and doesn’t allow the body to reboot or recover from the spike in cortisol. Over time, the never ending stress response will tax the body, resulting in chronic fatigue syndrome.
6 Signs that Anxiety is Behind Your Chronic State of Fatigue
Here are some common signs that signal anxiety might be the culprit of your chronic fatigue:
- Sleep Issues. If you struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, or still feel tired even after getting sufficient sleep, the problem could be anxiety disorder. Running the loop of worries through your head, allowing anticipation of disaster to consume your thoughts before, during, or after a night’s sleep can keep your body in a emotionally hyper-aroused state, leading to chronic fatigue.
- Loss of Appetite. Like a vicious circle, the stress that is gnawing away at you all day may leave you with a diminished appetite, which in turn causes you to feel fatigued. The body needs a certain number of calories for fuel, as well as consistent good nutrition to function optimally. Lack of appetite as a result of anxiety can lead to chronic fatigue symptoms.
- Feeling Burned Out. When you feel totally fried during the day, finding yourself needing to take naps or nodding off at work, chronically elevated anxiety could be the culprit. Constant fear, stress, or worry leaves a person feeling completely spent.
- Overly Emotional. Being extra touchy is a symptom of burn out as well, as the person feels unable to handle any more problems and may burst into tears at the smallest provocation. Lack of sleep, a co-occurring depressive disorder, and sheer mental exhaustion can lead to weepy bouts.
- Foggy-Headed. Brain fog is a classic symptom of an anxiety disorder, due to the over-exposure to stress and issues that feel overwhelming. At some point the brain just shuts down, leaving one feeling out of it.
- Caffeine Doesn’t Cut it. When even your trusty cup of Joe doesn’t seem to make a dent in your feelings of exhaustion that is a sign that anxiety may be stealing your energy and leaving you chronically fatigued.
How to Reduce Anxiety and Improve Energy Levels
A psychotherapist can assist you with identifying the sources of worry or anxiety causing chronic fatigue symptoms, and then guide you in learning new ways of managing the worry. Cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful in training individuals, whose internal messaging is leading to excess anxiety, to replace negative thoughts and behavioral responses with new ways of perceiving the supposed looming disasters.
If a serious anxiety disorder is identified, a psychiatrist can help by prescribing anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants, as well as provide intensive psychotherapy. An individual who is experiencing severe impairment in daily functioning may consider a residential program that treats anxiety disorders in a more focused manner.
Treatment Options and Helpful Information for Anxiety Disorder
The Treatment Specialist is a valuable online resource for information about mental health disorders, dual diagnosis, and addiction. When you experience anxiety causing chronic fatigue symptoms it is helpful to learn about the sources of anxiety and to consider seeking therapy to help manage it. For more information about how anxiety can cause chronic fatigue and for inpatient treatment information, call at Treatment Specialist at (866) 644-7911.