What Can Cause Chronic Fatigue? 11 Possibilities
This is very interesting question, one that took me literally years of doctors appointments and internet searching to figure out, as there is more than one road to this debilitating illness. Chronic fatigue syndrome definition: unexplained, profound fatigue that lasts for six months or more, which is made worse by exercising/exertion and doesn’t improve on resting. Other symptoms include poor concentration, headaches, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and poor memory.
If you are reading this the chances are either you or a loved one is suffering from excessive, perhaps, “chronic fatigue”. Among the most common causes of chronic fatigue syndrome are : Nutrition, Candida, Lyme Disease, Adrenal Fatigue, Epstein-Barr Virus, Spinal Misalignment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Trauma. It can also be a combination of these making it difficult (not impossible) to treat. Recovery is different for everyone, but for now, we’ll stick to my findings on some of the causes.
Many people today, because of the demands of modern society, struggle to prepare and eat healthy meals. Convenient, ready-made dishes are all too common, and in the long run can have adverse effects on the body and mind.
Given that the food we eat, essentially turns into “us”, would it not make sense to pay attention to what we eat?
Nutrition is one of the key parts of recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome. Making healthy green smoothies can be a game changer. Personally, after just a few short weeks drinking green smoothies, I experienced a remarkable improvement in my energy levels, and over the coming months, my memory and concentration improved.
So the question is, “would you put poor quality petrol in your car and expect it to run properly?” Well the same applies to the human body, poor nutrition = poor performance, it’s that simple!
It is important for me to note : while proper nutrition will definitely help the chronic fatigue sufferer regain some of their former glory, in most instances, it is only a part of the individuals’ recovery.
Please feel free to leave a comment below – I would love to hear your take on nutrition, as there is so much conflicting information about it can be hard to navigate. There’s no “one size fits all” diet. What works for me, may not work for you. That being said, there are certain foods we all should avoid and others we should eat more of.
This is a fungus (candidiasis), that lives primarily in your intestines but can be found on your skin and in your mouth. It is most common in people with a weakened immune system. In small amounts it is quite harmless but as it grows in your gut it becomes more problematic, because it feeds on some vital nutrients the body needs for energy production. Prolonged deficiency of these nutrients, particularly magnesium, may potentially cause chronic fatigue syndrome. The good news – candidiasis can be reversed with simple changes to your diet. I shall elaborate on this at a later date.
As yet, there is no scientific evidence to prove that adrenal fatigue exists. However, those who suggest it does exist, believe it is generally caused by poor nutrition and ongoing, excessive stress levels (mental, physical and emotional) which leads to the overworking (excessive cortisol production) of your adrenal glands. It is suggested that this “overworking” of the adrenal glands can cause chronic fatigue. The good news, a few changes to your diet can help, along with some relaxation techniques such as meditation, light yoga or whatever helps you relax. Stress reduction is vital.
Usually caused by a tick bite, the possibility of having Lyme disease needs to be ruled out, as many of the symptoms are similar to those of chronic fatigue, such as, general aches and pains, short term memory loss, fatigue, lack of focus/concentration, pain and swelling of the joints, even speech problems, to mention a few. Studies show, the majority of people, who think they have been infected with this disease actually have chronic fatigue syndrome. Fortunately, those with Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics.
A form of herpes (herpesvirus 4), that is usually contracted through bodily fluids (mostly saliva), when untreated, may cause chronic fatigue, muscle aches, fever and headaches. More than 95% of the population will contract this at some point as they journey through life. This virus can cause fatigue, but the symptoms rarely last more than 3 to 6 months. Some specialists say Epstein-Barr virus can “cause” chronic fatigue, while others say it “triggers” chronic fatigue. Studies on this topic are still in progress, and while there is no known cure, symptoms can be reduced by getting plenty of rest and keeping hydrated.
This is one possible cause of chronic fatigue syndrome that, unfortunately, many people overlook. If your spine is out of line it can cause an array of health problems including chronic pain and inflammation, poor sleep and cognitive function. Understandably, the stress of this on the body may, and can, cause chronic fatigue and worse, if untreated. A combination of regular visits to a Chiropractor, Physiotherapy and light Yoga, can help you recover – it certainly helped me!
In this fast paced, ever-changing world, stress is almost impossible to avoid. Some people though, are fortunate enough that they are able to take these changes in their stride. However, some of us find change a lot more challenging. When we are not in harmony with our surroundings and accepting of change, it can, over time, take it’s toll on our physical, mental and emotional well-being. Some symptoms of stress include: low energy, aches, pains, headaches, sleep problems, irregular heartbeat, frequent colds and infections and the list goes on.
Did it alone cause my chronic fatigue?, no, but before learning how to manage stress in my life, I can honestly say that it played a role in my illness. Cognitive, Behavioral therapy helped me manage my thoughts and provided me with the tools I needed to take life’s challenges in my stride.
Plenty of people experience anxiety from time to time, but, if your tendency is to be anxious on a daily basis, then you are probably compromising your health on some level. Our brain, simply put, cannot tell the difference between “real” and “imagined” fear, and there is a physical response either way. The problem is, with chronic fatigue, you simply cannot exercise to counteract the harmful effects, caused by excessive anxiety.
This “fight or flight” response causes rapid heart beat, shallow breathing, and the abundant production of chemicals and hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. In a dangerous situation this is vital for our survival, but when our fear is imagined, it is a different story. Unless we exercise daily, and in particular when we’re anxious, the over production of these hormones and chemicals, over time can negatively influence your health.
The sole cause of chronic fatigue syndrome? Maybe not, but there is no doubt it takes a toll on the body, if untreated, causing depression, social withdrawal, irregular heartbeat, IBS, headaches and restlessness. There is no doubt in my mind anxiety contributed to my chronic fatigue. Possible treatments : Cognitive behavioural therapy and meditation helps reduce anxiety.
Next time you feel anxious, ask yourself “where is the tiger? – what’s actually happening right now that’s causing this feeling?” I found when I kept things “in the moment,” life was much easier handle, we have after all, little control over the future 🙂 so now, I try to embrace the present.
Fatigue and depression usually go hand in hand. Not being able to get out of bed in the mornings due to extreme fatigue is but one of the symptoms of depression. For me, I would say that I was depressed because I was so profoundly tired all the time, I could no longer do the things I loved to do. This had a serious impact on my mental and emotional well-being. Not being able to go on a family walk, play with my children, or even hold a conversation, had a massive, negative impact on my life.
Other symptoms like feeling sad and hopeless, change in sleep patterns, weight gain/loss, feeling sluggish and irritable, trouble concentrating and dark thoughts, make recovery from CFS more difficult.
Depression may not cause chronic fatigue, but it certainly makes symptoms much worse. If you feel depressed, I strongly suggest you seek help from a mental health professional. Life should be enjoyed, not endured.
Trauma – psychological and emotional.
As your sense of security is threatened, be it physical, psychological or emotional, it can really inhibit a persons ability to cope with life. A few studies suggest, traumatic events, stress, or emotional instability, particularly in our childhood, can cause chronic fatigue syndrome. When you take care of food and shelter, love and understanding are among the most essential components for a child’s healthy development.
Untreated, emotional trauma, can have devastating consequences on a child’s brain, causing all kinds of issues as they grow into adulthood. The most obvious signs of trauma are as follows : confusion, poor concentration, anger, mood swings, anxiety, guilt and self blame, feeling sad and disconnected, trust issues and/or withdrawing from others.
Fortunately, there are a few things we can do to help us recover. Some find hypnotherapy helps while others use pharmacotherapy (medication) to aid in early recovery. One of the more common treatments though, is a therapy called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). This allows you to “reprocess” the past traumatic events of your life in a safe environment, gently nursing the individual back to a healthy emotional state of being.
A.S.D (Autism Spectrum Disorder)
Asperger Syndrome is a ‘high functioning’ form of ASD. People with Asperger’s can experience significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication. An ‘Aspie” (a person with Aspergers) can find social interaction difficult and use up much of their energy reading other peoples body language and facial expressions. What ‘flows’ and is ‘normal’ for most people, is challenging for an Aspie.
In general Aspie’s are more prone to mental health issues such as, anxiety, stress and depression all which, in my experience, heavily contribute to chronic fatigue and burnout if, untreated. CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) can really help an Aspie to navigate social interactions and reduce their stress levels, thus reducing fatigue.
In this blog, I have mentioned only some possibilities that can cause chronic fatigue syndrome. It is my intention, over time, not only to expose all possibilities, but also to provide people the information needed to help them recover.
In the absence of a medical diagnosis, the feeling of not being believed can be prominent. If this sounds like you, or someone you know, do not fear, there is always a way, and in a subsequent blog we will uncover some recovery possibilities.
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