Understanding Anxiety Fatigue

One of the more common symptoms of anxiety is fatigue that just won’t go away. It’s hard to understand how a condition of the mind can cause a physical symptom. And the connection between anxiety and fatigue isn’t well known.

Most of the time this anxiety fatigue occurs after a longer time feeling anxious. There may be several reasons for anxiety to lead to fatigue.

  • Lack of sleep. Many times, anxiety will keep you awake. There is something about things in your life that become bigger and more scary at night. Partly this has to do with the ability to distract yourself at least somewhat during daylight hours. But at night, you’re alone in the dark.
  • Tired brain. Your brain can become overloaded with anxiety. Anxiety affects all parts of your body: your brain, hormones, neurotransmitters, and muscles. There will be times when your brain needs to rest and recover. This may be one reason you have difficulty focusing when anxious, also.
  • Adrenaline crashes. When you’re anxious, your adrenal glands secrete adrenaline to give you energy because your body responds the same way it does when you’re under stress. Your adrenal glands continue working as long as you’re anxious. There comes a time when the adrenals reach exhaustion. Then the adrenaline stops; you crash. This is a sudden crash, with feelings of intense fatigue.
  • Tired mind. When you’re under a great deal of anxiety, you’re facing one thing after another after another after another. Stress, worry, and anxiety take over your mind and thinking. This requires a significant amount of energy. Doing this over and over for extended periods of time leads to your mind tiring. This is mental fatigue, leading to slow thinking, feeling groggy, and “brain fog.”
  • Tired muscles. Feeling anxious brings on muscle tension at least in some parts of your body. Over a period of time, this kind of anxiety fatigue shows up in difficulty using your arms and legs, primarily.

What Can You Do About Anxiety Fatigue?

One intervention that can help a great deal is improve your sleep. Have a regular time to go to bed and to get up. Don’t take naps during the day. Make yourself tired. Mild to moderate exercise before going to bed will help you get tired enough to go to sleep. Avoid any kind of stimulant before going to bed. No coffee, tea, or soft drinks. Taking a magnesium supplement prior to bedtime may also be of help. A deficiency of magnesium can lead to insomnia.

Directly attacking your anxiety can also decrease anxiety fatigue. Practice “time outs” from anxiety several times during the day. Some things you can do during these “time outs” include:

  • Take a hot bath or shower
  • Go for a brisk walk
  • Put on a tape of your favorite song and sing along
  • Make a list of positive things in your life and think about one of these things

Keep a journal of things that make you anxious. This helps you know what to avoid if possible.