What is the Connection Between Anxiety and Fatigue?
Persistent anxiety and stress often lead to fatigue. That is because anxiety causes your body to produce adrenaline as part of your body’s fight-or-flight response. After the adrenaline is used up, your body often crashes, leaving you feeling exhausted. While post-anxiety fatigue is common, anxiety can also cause you to experience extreme fatigue throughout the day. Understanding the link between anxiety and fatigue can help you determine the steps you need to find relief.
Understanding the Relationship Between Anxiety and Fatigue
When a person experiences stress, the body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which help the body deal with the perceived threat. But the chronic over-production of these hormones creates problems throughout the body. As we discussed above, the surges of adrenaline create spikes and drops that can leave someone feeling exhausted. Furthermore, high levels of cortisol due to prolonged stress can lead to adrenal fatigue, making it difficult for your body to properly regulate your hormones. This can disrupt sleep and cause fatigue.
Stress is also very taxing on the brain. Anxiety is linked to persistent, stressful thoughts and increased brain activity. Researchers believe it is possible for the brain to become fatigued from overuse, similar to an overworked muscle. This can lead to brain fog and a general sense of tiredness. People with anxiety also commonly experience depression, which is often characterized by fatigue.
How Can I Tell if My Fatigue is Due to Anxiety?
- Coffee doesn’t seem to help – Normal tiredness is typically dispersed by a dose of morning caffeine. But for people suffering from anxiety, no amount of caffeine seems to wake them up. In fact, caffeine can often leave you feeling worse because it compounds the symptoms of anxiety (racing heart, jitteriness, etc.).
- You’re still tired after a good night’s sleep – In order for your body to be fully rested, you must sleep at least 7 hours a night – some adults require up to 9 hours of sleep each night. If you haven’t been sleeping well (like most people) you could be operating on a sleep deficit. Give yourself a few nights of 7-9 hours of sleep. If you still feel tired, it could be anxiety.
- Your appetite is off – Anxiety can cause you to completely lose your appetite or engage in stress eating. Both extremes typically result in poor nutrition, which can also leave you feeling fatigued. Anxiety manifests through numerous physical symptoms, including gastrointestinal problems. If you’re suddenly experiencing stomach troubles, it could be linked to anxiety as well.
How to Treat Fatigue Caused by Anxiety
- Take short naps – If you find yourself struggling to stay awake during the day, take a brief nap: no more than 20 minutes. A quick nap can help you regain some much-needed energy, but too much sleep can make it difficult for you to sleep at night. This can cause a sleep deficit that triggers more stress and anxiety.
- Practice good sleep hygiene – If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, take steps to cultivate good sleep hygiene. Stick to a regular sleep schedule, turn off your TV, computer and phone an hour before bed, and exercise for 30 minutes each day (which can also help lower anxiety).
- Engage in relaxing activities – Give your body time to relax and release stress, whether it be deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, music, art, etc. We often pack our lives and our to-do lists so full that we have no time to relax, which leads to chronic stress.
- Take steps to reduce anxiety – Fatigue is your body’s way of signaling that something is wrong. By targeting and treating the underlying cause – high stress levels – the fatigue will resolve much faster.
Learn More About Fatigue and Anxiety
At Anchor Wellness Center, we can help you determine the cause of your fatigue and whether you are suffering from chronic stress. Dr. Minni Malhotra, MD, FAARM, ABAARM will develop a targeted and customized treatment plan for you using natural remedies, lifestyle changes, and appropriate diet supported with plant based nutraceuticals. Board Certified in Family Medicine as well as Board Certified with the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Malhotra has the expertise you need to find relief from anxiety and fatigue. Call us today at (832) 246-8437 to schedule a consultation.