Fatigue is a feeling of being extremely tired, weak and generally feeling very exhausted. Fatigue does not have to be physical feelings of tiredness; it can also be experienced mentally or as a combination of both physical and mental. We all have experienced a sleepless night and some point in our lives and trying to function the next day feels like climbing Mount Everest. Every little task feels so much harder when we are tired, and this is also true for fatigue. When someone is experiencing fatigue, they may not be able to function at their best and this will impact on their day-to-day tasks 

Fatigue Symptoms

Symptoms of fatigue can vary from person to person, and the severity of symptoms can fluctuate from day to day. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Problems with memory or concentration
  • Unexplained muscle or joint pain
  • Dizziness that worsens with moving from lying down or sitting to standing
  • Sleep that isn’t refreshing
  • Extreme exhaustion after physical or mental exercise

(White, 2004).

Fatigue Causes

There are multiple physical and psychological causes of fatigue, however, some common triggers include:

  • Underlying medical conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid issues, hormonal imbalances, anaemia, heart disease, problems with the immune system, or pneumonia.
  • Infections, including viral infections 
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Sleep disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Mental health issues including stress, anxiety or depression
  • Medications such as statins, antihistamines, and sedatives
  • Treatments such as chemotherapy

(White, 2004).

Working with a therapist can help individuals discover and treat the cause of their fatigue.

What are the Differences Between Fatigue and Just Being Tired?

Feeling tired from time to time, is a normal part of life and usually short lived such as fatigue due to lack of sleep the night before. However, persistent and constant fatigue can become extremely problematic. Extreme fatigue can actually be very dangerous because individuals’ level of alertness are significantly impaired and this effects one’s ability to perform a verity of task, such as driving a car, operating machinery and making big decision (Harvey & Wessely, 2009). When fatigue lasts for months with no apparent cause, it becomes chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is its own condition. 

Individuals who experience chronic fatigue may experience several of the symptoms listed above such and have difficulty engaging in strenuous physical tasks or have muscle weakness. Chronic fatigue can make it difficult for people to complete simple day to day tasks or concentrate on one thing. As a result, they may find it harder to get through the day or productivity at work or in school significantly decreases. Tasks like preparing meals, maintaining personal hygiene, and social engagement may start to feel like extreme effort and their mental health can deteriorate (White, 2004).

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Stef Gafa’ is a counsellor with Willingness who has a particular interest in trauma, attachment, domestic violence and the LGBT community.


Brurberg, K. G., Fønhus, M. S., Larun, L., Flottorp, S., & Malterud, K. (2014). Case definitions for chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME): a systematic review. BMJ open4(2), e003973.

Harvey, S. B., & Wessely, S. (2009). Chronic fatigue syndrome: identifying zebras amongst the horses. BMC medicine7(1), 1-4.

White, P. D. (2004). What causes chronic fatigue syndrome?. BMJ,  329- 928.