Everybody feels weary and tired at one time or another. Usually, this is temporary fatigue with a clear cause like a late night at the office or staying up with the baby. However, chronic fatigue is persistent and more profound. Fatigue is the perpetual feeling of low energy, poor mental capacity, and constant weariness.
Although fatigue is not synonymous with drowsiness, it is often associated with a strong desire to sleep and not do much else. Fatigue negatively affects your psychological and emotional states.
In many cases, fatigue can be linked back to some of your lifestyle choices and habits, including caffeine or alcohol consumption, lack of sleep, inactivity, poor diet, certain medications, or excessive physical activity. Sometimes, it is a common symptom of mental health issues like stress, depression, grief, and anxiety. In other cases, fatigue is the outward symptom of an underlying medical issue, including heart disease, emphysema, cancer, anemia, acute liver failure, obesity, sleep apnea, either type of diabetes, chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, or restless legs syndrome.
Contact your doctor if your fatigue continues for more than two weeks despite your efforts to reduce stress, eat a healthy diet, drink enough fluids, and rest. Seek immediate medical attention if, in addition to your fatigue, you experience severe headache, severe pelvic, back, or abdominal pain, chest pain, irregular or quick heartbeat, shortness of breath, faintness, or abnormal bleeding.
Your doctor can help determine the cause of your fatigue by observing its pattern. If you wake up with very little energy and experience fatigue all throughout the day, you may have depression. If you wake up feeling rested and energized but rapidly feel fatigued with activity, you may have a medical condition like an underactive thyroid.