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Does stress/anxiety "really" cause fatigue?

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Old 07-16-2008, 06:43 AM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2004
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joebloggs2 HB Userjoebloggs2 HB User
Does stress/anxiety "really" cause fatigue?

I know countless people who are as stressed and anxious as me, but none that suffer from the degree of fatigue I suffer. Maybe deep down I'm a lot more anxious than most people, and I've had tests done; I'm physically fine, so I'm not sure where the problem is.

If I'm causing it mentally, how do I stop? How much stress/anxiety does one need to suffer from 24/7-for-a-decade chronic fatigue and drowsiness?

I feel the irritability and anxiety result from my drowsiness. I feel cranky and can't focus, the same feeling you have if you stay up for 30 hours or when you're cramming for a test.

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Old 07-16-2008, 08:01 AM   #2
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kiya HB User
Re: Does stress/anxiety "really" cause fatigue?

I would have to say that yes, chronic or severe acute stress/anxiety really does cause fatigue. I find that any kind of stress makes my fatigue far, far worse. However, it's also true that fatigue can cause anxiety and irritability. I certainly get very cranky if I've had a long day at work because it feels not only like I've had a long day at work, but like I've done it on zero hours sleep and started at 3am!!!

As for you causing it mentally and how to stop - I haven't a clue! Every so often I have a health professional who'll suggest a psychological problem as the reason for my fatigue and other symptoms. I find this incredibly frustrating as if it's my mind causing it, why won't my mind make it all go away?!? After all, I don't want to be unwell.

The whole thing is a big mystery to me.

Old 07-16-2008, 11:47 AM   #3
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tiredoftired HB User
Re: Does stress/anxiety "really" cause fatigue?

I know exactly what you're going through. The answer is yes; stress causes fatigue. I know this because through CBT (Cognative Behavior Therapy), I have experienced a corellation between the stressors in my life and how tired I feel. In a way, it's like a hidden blessing - without the fatigue, I would not be aware of the stressors which would only contribute to the depression which I have also been diagnosed with.

Every time I feel tired, I analyze what is bothering me. It takes honesty, patience, and a true desire to figure out the things which your mind wants to hide from you. It's similar to psychosomatic problems, where your mind creates problems with your body so that you don't thik about the psychological problems.

I am also taking antidepressants. But by far, the therapy has been a life changing experience. Instead of just fixing the fatigue "externally," (i.e. medication) you hit the root of the problem. I no longer feel like I have to sleep for 12 hours, waking up as if I can sleep for another 12.

My humble suggestion is that if you haven't seen a psychiatrist yet, you should do so. If you are still sceptical, there is a book that was reccomended to me called "the angry book" that spells out that anger forced inward (i.e. depression/anxiety) causes multiple medical issues including extreme fatigue.

Old 07-16-2008, 12:09 PM   #4
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kiya HB User
Re: Does stress/anxiety "really" cause fatigue?

Well, to be honest, I think chronic fatigue can be caused by many different things and that CFS is a poor attempt by the medical professional to put a name to something that isn't really one thing at all.

I have a good life - it's not perfect and yes I have a bit of stress, but that's not in itself bad for you - I have a job I enjoy, a few close friends and a supportive boyfriend. I don't suffer from depression or anxiety.

I've never been offered CBT because I don't fit the diagnostic criteria for CFS (despite my stupid GP "diagnosing" it). I think CBT can work for some people. But I take an alternative approach. I live my life pretending the fatigue isn't there. I work full-time and have a reasonable social life. I've learnt to live with the fatigue. I tried for the first two years to work out whether there were stressors or specific reasons for it, but I couldn't pinpoint anything at all... when I was looking for answers I just felt frustrated. Now that I've stopped, I still have the symptoms but I push them to the back of my mind. After all, they're not life-threatening!

Old 07-16-2008, 05:50 PM   #5
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joebloggs2 HB Userjoebloggs2 HB User
Re: Does stress/anxiety "really" cause fatigue?

Thanks for the responses.

The fatigue isn't life-threatening, but it's not necessary, and deteriorates quality of life. I envy those who wake up feeling refreshed, and remain feeling that way throughout most of the day.

Life "sucks" when you're tired. I don't enjoy things as much (or at all), and usually take hours to finish small tasks because I keep zoning out and losing track of my thoughts in the process.

It's like living with sun glasses on all day, or with headphones on playing annoying music 24/7. It's not life-threatening, but it's a major nuisance.

I had a psychiatrist for a short time. It helped somewhat, but I can't dedicate much time to see one because of a new job I have. I still want to go. I especially like cognitive feedback therapy (biofeedback), but the annoying thing is that I feel my shrink/doctors don't really pay attention to the fatigue. They downplay it, though nearly every doctor visit I've had has been to address this very problem.

"The Angry Book".. do you recommend it? I currently have "Been There, Done That, Do This" which was recommended on this board, but I haven't read it yet.

Old 07-17-2008, 09:54 AM   #6
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kiya HB User
Re: Does stress/anxiety "really" cause fatigue?

Hmm, well things can suck when you're tired and yes it's extremely annoying to listen to others as they bounce around first thing in the morning full of energy, when you have none at all.

My usual day consists of... Struggling to wake up at 6am to get ready for work. I am completely muzzy-headed when I wash and shower and dress. My arm aches when I blowdry my hair. I still feel woolly-headed as I eat breakfast and try to have at least two cups of tea to wake me up in time for my drive to work. I drive, with slightly blurry vision (not dangerously so!) and still feeling like someone's woken me up in the middle of the night. I spend the whole day at work using all the energy I have to focus and concentrate on what I need to do. It is utterly exhausting. I get home around 5.15pm and my body wants to crash into bed, but I make myself have dinner and watch tv before finally going to bed at a reasonable time, i.e. 9.30pm.

Most of the day I also have to put up with things appearing like they're moving around. At the moment my laptop and the table it's on look like they're moving. It's a little freaky. I feel completely washed out.

It's all very well feeling that other people have a better deal, but thinking about that won't help you. I find talking to health professionals about my illness makes me feel stressed because the utter helplessness of the situation comes back and the unfairness of it all. So I try to avoid doctors as often as possible. I'm not saying pushing it all to the back of your mind is easy - it's absolutely not. I went through an awful period of not being able to concentrate for more than a half-hour or so, but I've tried hard to tackle this and it is possible to increase your concentration span bit by bit. Just last month I sat 3 3-hour papers in anatomy, physics and clinical practice and passed them all! That despite having dizziness and shaking during the exams.

I think sometimes it just helps to accept the fatigue as being there and start to focus on other things. I've found working in oncology has helped put my own fatigue into perspective.

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