What is Fatigue & What Usually Causes Fatigue?

Almost everyone becomes overtired or overworked at some point in their life. However, such instances of temporary fatigue are normal and everyone goes through them at some point or the other in their life. However, unrelenting exhaustion that does not seem to end, does not get relieved by resting, and seems to be getting more profound with each passing day, is known as fatigue. Fatigue not just reduces your energy to function and get through the day, but also starts to affect your concentration, and also has an impact on your emotional and psychological well-being. Fatigue is a common sign of many medical conditions, as well as a result of your lifestyle choices. If fatigue does not resolve by itself with proper rest and nutrition, then it is important that you get it checked out from a doctor. Let us take a look at what exactly is fatigue and what usually causes fatigue in order to understand how to deal with fatigue.

What is Fatigue & What Usually Causes Fatigue?

What is Fatigue?

Fatigue can be best described as profound tiredness accompanied by reduced levels of energy, mental and physical exhaustion, as well as lack of motivation. Fatigue is usually best described as being ‘tired all the time’. While sometimes it is a medical issue that is the root cause of fatigue, but many times it is only being caused by an unhealthy lifestyle.

Fatigue can have a negative impact on your performance at work, at school, your social relationships, your family life, and your overall day-to-day life. Fatigue is a vague and problematic condition to investigate and diagnose, and often many people simply do not bother to report it to their doctor.

There are many underlying causes of fatigue and there are also many ways to solve this situation. Let’s take a look at the causes of fatigue.

What Usually Causes Fatigue?

There are several causes of fatigue. These are typically divided into three categories:

  • Underlying physical health conditions
  • Mental health conditions
  • Lifestyle factors

Physical Health Conditions

There are many medical conditions that cause fatigue. Some of these include:

Mental Health Conditions

There are many mental health conditions that can also lead to fatigue. For example, mental health conditions such as anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, and depression, all are characterized by persistent fatigue.

Lifestyle Factors

It is possible that your daily habits, your activities, and other lifestyle choices are causing you to become fatigued. For example, some lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Physical exertion
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Boredom
  • Grief
  • Emotional stress
  • Certain medications such as sedatives or antidepressants
  • Not having a nutritious and balanced diet
  • Consuming too much caffeine
  • Drug abuse such as cocaine
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol

There are some types of fatigue that can cause fatigue but are usually not considered to be a medical problem or a cause of concern. This includes fatigue that is caused by:

  • Boredom
  • Physical activity
  • Emotional stress
  • Lack of sleep

Some people are also more likely to suffer from fatigue as compared to others. For example, women are more likely to report fatigue than men. Also, people living in poverty and people with physical or mental illnesses are also more likely to report fatigue.

When Should You Consult a Doctor?

If you are persistently feeling fatigued, then you should consider making an appointment with your doctor. If you experience the following, then consult a doctor without delay:

  • Have experienced unintentional weight loss
  • Are having a higher than normal body temperature
  • Are unable to attribute your fatigue to any particular reason
  • If you are depressed
  • If you are having trouble sleeping, falling asleep, or staying asleep
  • If you are feeling particular sensitivity to cold temperatures

If you have already taken some measures to address your lifestyle factors that could be behind this fatigue, and can no longer think of any reason why you are feeling tired all the time, then you should consult your doctor at the earliest.

It is possible that your fatigue is being caused by a serious underlying medical condition, so it is recommended to seek immediate medical help, especially if you also experience the following symptoms along with fatigue:

  • Severe headache
  • Vomiting blood
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Feeling faint
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • Severe pain in the pelvic region, back, or the abdomen
  • Thoughts of harming someone else


There are a number of measures you can take that will help you feel less fatigued, especially if your condition is being caused by a less-than-ideal lifestyle. These measures will also help boost your energy levels and also keep you healthy. These include:

  • Drink plenty of water or healthy fluids to remain well hydrated during the day.
  • Practice having healthy eating habits and eat a nutritious and balanced diet.
  • Keep exercising on a regular basis.
  • Get sufficient sleep every night – don’t let a sleep debt pile up.
  • Avoid any known stressors.
  • Avoid doing any work or having a social schedule that will prove to be overly demanding
  • Join some relaxing activities such as yoga
  • Abstain from tobacco, alcohol, and any other type of street/recreational drugs

By incorporating these recommended lifestyle changes will help you get rid of your fatigue and make you feel healthy. At the same time, it is also important that you follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan if you have a diagnosed medical condition. Keep in mind that if you leave a medical condition untreated, then fatigue will eventually take a toll on your daily routine, your physical and your emotional well-being.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 16, 2019

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