How Tired Is Too Tired?
Anemia and Fatigue
Symptoms: Fatigue, dizziness, feeling cold, irritability
Anemia is the most common blood condition in the U.S. It affects about 3.5 million Americans. For women in their childbearing years, anemia is a common cause of fatigue. This is especially true for women who have heavy menstrual cycles, uterine fibroid tumors, or uterine polyps.
Anemia, a condition in which red blood cell production is decreased, can also be the result of hemorrhoids or GI problems such as ulcers, or cancer. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin can also lead to GI problems and bleeding. Other causes of anemia include a deficiency of iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12. Chronic diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease can also cause anemia.
To confirm a diagnosis of anemia, your doctor will give you a blood test. If iron deficiency is the cause of your fatigue, treatment may include iron supplements. Iron-rich foods such as spinach, broccoli, and red meat can also be added to your diet to help relieve symptoms. Vitamin C with meals or with iron supplements can help the iron to be better absorbed and improve your symptoms.
Depression, Anxiety, and Fatigue
Symptoms: Sadness, feeling hopeless, worthless, and helpless, fatigue
Sometimes, depression or anxiety is at the root of chronic fatigue. Depression affects twice as many women as men and often runs in families. It commonly begins between the ages of 15 and 30.
Women can get postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. Some people get seasonal affective disorder in the winter, with feelings of fatigue and sadness. Major depression is also one part of bipolar disorder.
With depression, you might be in a depressed mood most of the day. You may have little interest in normal activities. Along with feelings of fatigue, you may eat too much or too little, over- or under-sleep, feel hopeless and worthless, and have other serious symptoms.
Anxiety symptoms may include:
- difficulty sleeping
- excessive worrying
- feeling "on alert" most of the time
- feeling of impending doom
If you are depressed or have regular symptoms of anxiety, talk to your doctor and get a physical exam. If there is no physical cause for the depression or anxiety, your doctor may prescribe medication. Or your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist for a psychological evaluation.
Although the specific causes of depression and/or anxiety are unclear, these are highly treatable medical problems. Medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two can help relieve symptoms.