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Chronic Fatigue: Tired of Feeling Tired?

Learn what may be causing your chronic fatigue ... and 10 solutions.

Chronic Fatigue Cause No. 8: Sleep Apnea continued...

More than one-third of adults in the U.S. report that they snore at least a few nights a week, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Snoring is caused by the vibration of the soft parts of the throat while breathing in and out during sleep. Sometimes snoring can account for daytime symptoms such as excessive fatigue.

But with sleep apnea, a condition related to snoring, there are repeated periods when breathing stops during sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea results in low oxygen levels in the blood because the blockages prevent air from getting to the lungs. The low oxygen levels also affect your heart and brain function. The only clue that you might have sleep apnea is chronic fatigue.

What can you do? First, talk with your doctor about a sleep study to determine if you have sleep apnea. Both obesity and smoking are risk factors for sleep apnea, so losing weight and quitting smoking are recommended. Sleeping on your side instead of your back may help eliminate mild sleep apnea.

Your doctor may prescribe a medical device called a CPAP that helps keep your airways open while you sleep. In severe cases of sleep apnea, surgery is necessary to remove tissues that are blocking the airways. If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase your risk of stroke or heart attack.

Chronic Fatigue Cause No. 9: Depression

Sometimes depression is at the root of fatigue. Depression affects twice as many women as men and often runs in families, starting between the ages of 15 and 30. Women can also get postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. Some people get seasonal affective disorder in the winter with feelings of fatigue and sadness. Depression is also one part of bipolar disorder.

According to Ronald Fieve, MD, psychopharmacologist and professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, mood is a dominant aspect of life. In his book, Bipolar II, Fieve explains that mood disorders are a large group of psychiatric conditions. Abnormal moods and physical disturbances -- like changes in eating habits, sleep patterns and body motion, either speeded up or slowed down -- dominate the picture.

While feeling low from time to time is normal,major depression needs medical treatment; it is a risk factor for suicide. This medical problem is usually recurrent, with repeated depressive episodes. With major depression, you might be in a depressed mood most of the day with little interest in normal activities, Fieve says. "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."

Fieve says that the diagnosis of depression begins with a physical exam by a doctor. If a physical cause for the depression is ruled out, your doctor may prescribe medication or refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist for a psychological evaluation.

While the specific causes of depression are unclear, depression is a highly treatable medical problem with antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. In some cases, electroconvulsive therapy or ECT is used to treat patients who are unable to take antidepressants, or who suffer from extreme depression.

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