If you are, you’re not alone. Far from it, in fact. It’s one of the common most reasons people go and see their doctor. The trouble is, most doctors can’t do much to help. That’s hardly surprising given they don’t learn much about non-specific conditions like fatigue during their medical training.
When someone suffers from persistent fatigue, many aspects of their life suffer. The quality of their work, the nature of their relationships or family life, their ability to go out, have fun, holiday, exercise – or even party – are often affected dramatically. Depression and anxiety may be triggers for fatigue, or they may be causes. The bottom line is that all kinds of events in life – ones that any healthy person would find manageable or even enjoyable – become a matter of trepidation. A doctor confronted with someone who exhibits symptoms of depression or anxiety often prescribes SSRI drugs (antidepressants). In the US, up to 10% of the population is taking an antidepressant at any one time. Things aren’t much different in most other industrialised countries.
You may also experience fatigue at certain times, and not others. OK, if you haven’t managed to get enough sleep, you’ve got good reason. But if you’re sleeping, or trying to sleep, and you just can’t seem to recover and feel energised, or you lose all your energy at particular times of day, such as after you’ve eaten, or when you’ve taken a limited amount of exercise, you’re starting to feel your fatigue and malaise a real problem.
There are always underlying reasons for fatigue-related conditions, but these can’t always be identified. In some cases, fatigue can be related to serious underlying diseases, which yet have been diagnosed, such as heart disease, thyroid diseases, type 2 diabetes, kidney or liver disease, or various infectious diseases, such as upper respiratory tract infections, gastric or duodenal ulcers, Lyme disease, pneumonia or periodontal disease. That’s why it’s always important to see a doctor or other qualified or experienced health professional to check for any possible, serious underlying causes.
While any of these conditions may be a cause of the fatigue, they may not be the sole cause and they may not have been the trigger that led to the disease in the first place. It may also be that the body struggles to resume normal, healthy function because of on-going mediators or perpetuators such as stressful life events (e.g. relationship or work-related challenges, financial difficulties, loss of a loved one), a poor diet or a particular nutrient deficiency, insufficient physical activity or relaxation, poor sleep quality, smoking, too much drink or other unhealthy habits.
Oftentimes however, the reasons for someone’s fatigue are complex, unclear and non-specific. Doctors and health professionals increasingly refer to this as ‘tired all the time’ syndrome, or TATT. Not for a lack of trying, the fatigue simply can’t be traced to a particular underlying disease. This is the case for over half the people who present to their doctors with fatigue — and the millions who don’t. Knowing there are some key things we can all do to help our bodies can be a lifesaver. We’ll give you more detail in upcoming blogs, but three key processes stand out as among the most important.
The first involves supporting the energy-producing ‘factories’ in our cells, the mitochondria. The second is about managing the amount of oxidative stress within the body. Both of these are strongly dependent on eating pattern and the quality of the nutrients you eat and absorb. It’s also about how you move, rest and sleep. The third key process is about providing the best possible environment for your body, one that nurtures it and allows it to function optimally. This means learning to be good to yourself, including eating as well as you can, taking particular supplementary nutrients, resting right and sleeping well, through to finding appropriate ways of being physically active and finding the best ways of transforming stress. Find out more in our forthcoming blogs…