What Type of Fatigued Are You?
June 26, 2019 | Published by Brandon Hoenisch
If you find yourself feeling tired or fatigued all the time, you’re not alone. About one-third of healthy teens and adults report feeling exhausted or fatigued. (1) So, why are you tired? To better understand this question, let’s first look at the 3 types of fatigue.
If you find yourself feeling sapped of energy after a hard day’s work, you may be feeling the effects of physiological fatigue. This general sense of exhaustion is also experienced by individuals that play a lot of sports or work out often.
Your muscles need certain levels of glycogen, glucose and oxygen to thrive. These fuels give power to your body, allowing it to fulfill the functions your body needs to perform. (2) But there are necessary by-products of energy productions that result in waste materials, such as lactic acid, carbon dioxide and sarcolactic acid.
These by-products gradually build up in your bloodstream and can result in an imbalance of metabolic homeostasis, thus leading to fatigue. (3) While you may feel you’re living an active, bustling life, it’s possible that it’s to the detriment of your health.
Another driver of physiological fatigue is lack of proper rest. A study performed at the University of Chicago found that 9 hours was the standard amount of sleep at the beginning of the 20th century.
That number has plummeted to an average of 7 hours in recent years (2), and your body may be paying the price. If you’re getting less than 8 hours of sleep each night and are feeling exhausted or fatigued, you may want look into methods to assist in getting a healthy amount of rest each night.
Pathological fatigue is a form of depletion brought on by a physical illness. This could include elevated blood pressure, inflammation issues, immune problems, thyroid complications, or even adrenal fatigue. (2)
Feeling chronically fatigued is not unusual for individuals with adrenal or thyroid issues. If you feel constant tiredness, irritability, hypoglycemia, drowsiness, poor memory, or lack of sleep, this may be a result of depleted adrenal glands. Even overactive adrenals can lead to insomnia. (2)
The thyroid is another endocrine gland sensitive to the effects of stress. Unlike the adrenal glands that have many functions, the thyroid has one major function: to control the rate at which energy is produced in the individual cells of the body. (4) Low thyroid function can be the cause of many symptoms such as constipation, dry skin and brittle nails, aches and pains, depression, and, of course, fatigue.
Supporting the adrenal glands can go a long way in supporting the thyroid gland. Underperforming adrenals can tax the thyroid, and vice versa. In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, there are herbs, vitamins and glandular extracts available that can help with adrenal support.
Psychological fatigue is most often connected with conditions such as stress, anxiety, and depression. (5) In the 1930’s, pioneering endocrinologist Dr. Hans Selye studied the body’s response to stress. He was able to demonstrate a stress-induced breakdown of the hormonal system that could lead to ailments such as high blood pressure and heart disease. (2)
Modern doctors often cite stress as the source of headaches, heartburn, insomnia, and various heart conditions. Chronic stress has even been linked to deadly diseases such as cancer. (6)
Emerging evidence is tracing the pathways of the mind-body interaction. For example, in a study done on college students, it was concluded that chronic feelings of loneliness can help to predict health status. This is perhaps due to lonely people having more psychological stress or experiencing it more intensely. Moreover, stress can hamper immunity. (7)
Chronic stress can affect both our physical and psychological well-being by causing a variety of problems including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. The consequences of chronic stress are serious. Yet, many Americans who experience prolonged stress are not making the necessary lifestyle changes to reduce stress and ultimately prevent health problems.
If you’re feeling overwhelmingly tired or fatigue, you may want to make an appointment with a healthcare practitioner to see if you’re suffering from any underlying health issues.
- Spritzler, F. 10 Reasons Why You’re Always Tired (And What You Can Do About It). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-you-are-tired
- Bakker, E. Are You Always Feeling Tired? Ericbakker.com. http://ericbakker.com/always-feeling-tired/
- Wan, J et al. Muscle fatigue: General understanding and treatment. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5668469/
- The Thyroid-Adrenal Connection. Adrenalfatigue.org. https://adrenalfatigue.org/the-thyroid-adrenal-connection/
- Murrell, D. Tiredness and fatigue: Why it happens and how to beat it. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/8877.php
- Heid, M. How stress affects cancer risk. MD Anderson Cancer Center. https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/how-stress-affects-cancer-risk.h21-1589046.html
- How Stress Weakens the Immune System. Adrenalfatigue.org. https://adrenalfatigue.org/stress-weakens-immune-system/