Feeling tired, zapped of energy? You're not the Lone
Doctors see it all the time: "Women with four kids, a
full-time job, and they get up at 5 to get everybody ready for the day. Their
lives are very hectic, they only get four hours of sleep. They expect their
bodies to do more than is realistic for one person," says Sharon Horesh,
MD, primary care specialist with the Emory Clinic in Atlanta.
Fatigue has many origins. For women, anemia brought on by
heavy menstrual cycles may cause fatigue. An underactive thyroid also causes
fatigue. A cold, sinus infection, or virus can drag you out -- even for three
or four weeks.
But all too often, you're not taking care of yourself. It's as
simple, and as difficult, as that.
"The first thing I ask is, 'What time do you go to bed?
When do you wake up? What's your day like?'" Horesh tells WebMD. As trite
as it may sound, you need to sleep more, eat healthy, take care of yourself --
"commonsense things," she says. "It's not a medical problem, it's a
Look at Your Options
First step, take stock of your life. If you can't juggle it
all, get some perspective. "Decide whether you're putting yourself under
unnecessary stress," says Inyanga Mack, MD, professor of primary and
community medicine at Temple University School of Medicine in Phiadelphia.
"Some people can successfully carve out a year or two to
achieve a goal. But others push themselves to meet unrealistic demands that are
not really necessary," Mack tells WebMD.
Assess your priorities, rank their importance, then make some
decisions. "Maybe a therapist can help," she says. "Maybe you need
to look for help with childcare or financial problems. Maybe you need to make
better spending decisions so you're not stressed financially. Some people buy a
truck first, then figure out how pay for it."
You do have options, Mack says. "If you're a young
woman with young children, trying to finish school, trying to work, you don't
have somebody to take care of the kids, can't afford to stop working, and are
working a low-pay job -- you're not actually trying to do something
extravagant. They are wonderful goals, but you may need more time to do it. You
may need to take fewer classes during the semester."
Tame Anxiety, Depression
For many people -- especially women in their 30s and 40s --
severe anxiety and depression are leading causes of fatigue, says Horesh.
"Anxiety puts your body into overdrive and wears down the immune system.
Some people even have medical symptoms like chest pain, racing heart, heart
palpitations because their bodies are in overdrive. They're getting shots of
adrenaline all the time."
Depression sets up a vicious cycle. "A lot of people don't
see a doctor until they're really, really sick, because they don't want to take
care of themselves, can't concentrate, can't get pleasure. They become
completely withdrawn, sometimes suicidal, unable to help themselves," she
An imbalance of hormone levels could be causing these mood
disturbances, she tells WebMD. Antidepressants, psychotherapy, meditation, or
yoga can help reduce stress and restore emotional balance. "Different
things work for different people," she says.