What is Severe Fatigue?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2019
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Severe fatigue is a condition in which an individual exhibits a lack of energy, up to and including feeling weary and unrefreshed after sleeping soundly during the night. This form of extreme fatigue goes beyond the usual tiredness that many people feel after a day of activity. Some sufferers of this type of deep fatigue describe the condition as being so tired that even the bones of the skeletal structure seem fatigued. In some quarters of the medical community, severe fatigue that persists for a period of six months constitutes grounds for a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS.

There are a number of health issues that can trigger a period of severe fatigue. One of the most common is depression. An individual suffering with this emotional disorder is likely to go through periods where there just about any type of physical action seems impossible. The arms and legs may feel almost leaden, discouraging the individual from engaging in any activity requiring more than minimal effort. When the depression is diagnosed and treatment ensues, the individual will begin to notice a slow but steady increase in energy as well as renewed interest in engaging in the activities that once came so easily.


Severe fatigue can also occur due to health issues like nutritional deficiencies. This is particularly true for people who suffer with anemia, or who have recently undergone severe stress. Often, increasing the intake of iron will reduce the anemia and allow the energy reserves to return to normal limits. Eliminating or minimizing stress can also help banish severe fatigue, since the excessive demand on the body’s supply of certain nutrients such as B vitamins and minerals like calcium and magnesium is reduced. At that point, replacement of the water-soluble B vitamins and various essential minerals will aid in recovery from the fatigue.

Lifestyle can also increase the probability of experiencing severe fatigue. Excessive use of alcohol and tobacco products can interfere with the natural absorption of various nutrients, leaving the body with fewer resources for proper function. Obesity often is accompanied by higher risk of heart disease and unhealthy levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, and may be the underlying cause of the constant tiredness. Eating balanced meals, exercising for at least thirty minutes three to four times each week, reducing alcohol consumption and quitting tobacco will often make a significant difference in energy levels in a short period of time.


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Post 3
Does anyone know what causes chronic fatigue syndrome? Is it related to the immune system?
Post 2

@alisha-- I'm not a doctor so I have no idea how much fatigue depression can cause. But what you describe sounds exactly the way I was before I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is an under-active thyroid and the thyroid is responsible for many things in the body like metabolism. When I had hypothyroidism, I had severe fatigue for months. I was sluggish, depressed and I gained weight. Like you, I wanted to do things but just couldn't. After I was diagnosed and put on synthetic thyroid hormones, my fatigue disappeared. Everything went back to normal in several months.

You should see your doctor and get blood tests to check your thyroid hormones.

Post 1

I am prone to depression and have dealt with it several times in the past. I do have some depression right now, but the fatigue I have is much more severe than I've ever experienced.

I know that depression makes me want to stay in bed all the time and not do anything. But this time it's different. I actually do want to get up and do something but I get exhausted very quickly. Even a short walk is very tiresome for me. It has been like this for almost six months now.

Can depression really cause such severe and chronic fatigue?

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