Are You Tired All the Time? Here are 9 Reasons Why

Causes of Fatigue

Do you feel like you’re dragging? Too tired to do the things you want to do? Don’t want to get out of bed? Lack the energy to be your best at work, in your relationships, or with your kids? Being chronically fatigued can really zap your zest for life. It is no surprise that fatigue impairs physical function, but it also has a negative impact on cognitive ability and emotional control.

Figuring out why you feel so drained can be a tiresome effort in itself. Autoimmune disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome affect anywhere from 836,000 to 2.5 million people in the U.S., but there are many other underlying behavioral, cognitive, and psychological causes of fatigue. Some of them may surprise you.

There are many underlying behavioral, cognitive, and psychological causes of fatigue. Some of them may surprise you. Click To Tweet

Behavioral, Cognitive, and Psychological Causes of Fatigue


Over 90% of those diagnosed with major depressive disorder experience fatigue, according to a 2018 study in CNS Drugs. In some instances, fatigue may be a side effect of certain medications used to treat depression. The relationship between depression and tiredness goes both ways, as chronic fatigue also increases the risk for depression. A 2011 paper in Innovations in Clinical Science reported that depression-related fatigue is associated with myriad effects, including difficulty concentrating, slowed thinking, apathy, boredom, memory problems, increased irritability, emotional disturbance, and a drop in productivity.

Wake-up call: Get moving, even though you may not feel like being active. Research shows that physical exercise has been found to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression.


The most common mental health issue, anxiety disorders affect an estimated 40 million Americans. Research shows anxiety and neuroticism, among other conditions, are significantly associated with fatigue. With anxiety or panic attacks, fears and nervousness can escalate and cause a fight, flight, or freeze response that triggers the release of a flood of hormones. This can lead to physical reactions, such as a racing heart, shallow breathing, muscle tension, trembling, and more. When this resolves, it is often followed by feelings of exhaustion. Even in the absence of these high-anxiety moments, ongoing anxiousness can be accompanied by persistent physical and psychological symptoms that drain energy and leave you feeling tired and overwhelmed.

Wake-up call: When you feel anxious or panicky, practice deep breathing to calm your nervous system and induce a sense of relaxation. Understand that relaxation is different from feeling tired.

Seasonal affective disorder:

Also known as SAD, seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that occurs seasonally, usually during the winter. Affecting an estimated 6% of Americans, SAD causes increased feelings of fatigue and leads to an additional 2.5 hours of sleep each night in the winter. People with SAD tend to experience an energy drain, feelings of lethargy, and low motivation.

Wake-up call: Try bright light therapy, which has been found to be beneficial for those with SAD.

Emotional stress:

Stress levels are rising, according to the 2022 Stress in America poll, which found that 87% of those who responded to the survey are stressed about rising costs of living.

Most people can handle life’s everyday stressors without feeling overwhelmed, but when major stresses stack up it can leave you feeling depleted. For example, getting laid off while you’re dealing with a serious health concern can make you feel overtired and emotionally exhausted.

Wake-up call: Practice stress-management techniques, such as meditation or listening to calming music.


Grief disrupts activity in the limbic system, the brain’s emotional centers, and it can activate the pain centers in the brain resulting in feelings of physical pain. All of this contributes to feelings of exhaustion during the grieving process. When you’re grieving, you may have trouble sleeping, which leads to daytime drowsiness. You may also feel mentally exhausted as a result of brain overload, as losses often have a wide range of complex implications—such as financial issues, living situations, everyday routines, and more.

Wake-up call: Following a loss, start the healing process as soon as possible and maintain a brain-healthy routine—exercise, nutritious foods, good sleep, and supplements—to preserve energy.

Sleep disorders:

An estimated 50-70 million Americans have some form of sleep disorder, with approximately 10% of Americans suffering from chronic insomnia, and about 22 million diagnosed with sleep apnea. That’s bad news because a lack of quality rest is a common reason for chronic daytime fatigue. Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep can have negative consequences, including irritability, brain fog, short temper, trouble concentrating, and more.

Wake-up call: Create a sleep routine that promotes healthy rest and stick with it 7 days a week.

Alcohol or marijuana use:

Although these compounds initially induce sleepiness for some people, they have the reverse effect as they wear off, which is why you may wake up several hours after you go to sleep—and not be able to return to slumbering. Alcohol seriously impairs sleep because it disrupts REM sleep, interferes with circadian rhythm, and increases the need for nighttime urination. A 2022 study found that people who used cannabis on 20 or more days in the past month were more likely to get either too little sleep (less than 6 hours) or too much sleep (more than 9 hours) each night.

Wake-up call: Eliminate or reduce your use of alcohol or marijuana.

Poor diet:

The foods you eat can either energize your brain and body or drain your mental and physical functioning. Foods that are high-glycemic—think sweets, baked goods, and chips—cause your blood sugar levels to spike and then crash, leaving you feeling physically sluggish and mentally dull. Starting your day with doughnuts sets you up for a low-energy day.

Wake-up call: Ditch the high-glycemic foods in favor of more fresh fruits and vegetables. And be sure to eat small amounts of lean protein throughout the day to help keep blood sugar balanced for better energy.

Risk for dementia:

Brain imaging research shows that people aged 50 and older who experience excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue are at increased risk of developing dementia. In the participants with high levels of daytime tiredness, brain scans showed detrimental changes in multiple areas of the brain. For example, fatigue was associated with shrinkage in the hippocampus, an area involved in memory formation.

Wake-up call: Identifying which of the 11 major risk factors for memory loss you have and addressing them can be critical to preserving memory as well as improving energy levels.

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. Injuries from sports. Dementia

    Comment by Janet — June 12, 2022 @ 1:53 PM

  2. Please 🙏🙏 open a center in Massachusetts. We need the help.

    Comment by Easmond Deen — June 17, 2022 @ 4:49 AM

  3. I’m surprised Thyroid problems were not factored in here. There is literally an epidemic of Hypothyroidism among women now.
    Would you consider writing an article addressing thyroid deficiencies provoking behavioral difficulties?
    Thank you.

    Comment by Paula — June 17, 2022 @ 5:06 AM

  4. ME/CFS is the biggest one!

    Comment by Dee — June 17, 2022 @ 6:37 AM

  5. Received severe T BI on 6/28/2000. Live alone. Goal is to continue healing knee from work injury. Learn CODE. Continue to heal & strengthen entire body. Find woman we will Marry. We always work and be active. We will do our best to live to at least 150 completely healthy and happy.

    Comment by Ronald — June 17, 2022 @ 7:23 AM

  6. None of these were surprising

    Comment by Lindsay — June 17, 2022 @ 7:26 AM

  7. Where is the nearest Amen Clinic to Austin Texas?

    Comment by Margaret Zander — June 17, 2022 @ 10:39 AM

  8. You write: “A 2022 study found that people who used cannabis on 20 or more days in the past month were more likely to get either too little sleep (less than 6 hours) or too much sleep (more than 9 hours) each night.”

    When you say “cannabis” does that mean marijuana with THC as well as CBD without THC? Does CBD without THC have the same problems?

    Comment by David Selden — June 17, 2022 @ 11:02 AM

  9. Hi,
    All of the various issues listed are good points as is the additional comment with respect to dementia risk. Also, I try to do the right things to combat fatigue but have difficulty being as consistent about the things that I know can combat fatigue, i.e., getting routine, aerobic exercise, sticking to an improved diet, etc. I need to be more like that old Nike commercial and “Just do it!”

    Comment by Barbara — June 20, 2022 @ 9:34 AM

  10. Hello Margaret, thank you for reaching out. At this time, Amen Clinics has 10 locations nationwide with the nearest to Austin, TX being in Irving, TX:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — June 20, 2022 @ 9:03 PM

  11. There is a lot of research regarding learning to breathe deeply to improve brain function energy level and uses to calm down . Do you suggest this or teach this ?

    Comment by Cheri Text Message — June 22, 2022 @ 6:20 AM

  12. What about women who are going thru hormonal imbalances? Doesn’t that cause these issues? And low red blood cell counts and thyroid and other cancer illness

    Comment by JB — June 22, 2022 @ 10:29 AM

  13. good advcie. Tks

    Vancouver, BC, Canada needs your services . Would pl consider favourably asap?

    Comment by Rauf — May 6, 2023 @ 3:22 PM

  14. One most serious and the most overlooked internal factor (not caused by life stresses) is Lyme Disease, which is the cause of Major Depressive Disorder, sleep disorders, and all other neuropsychological disorders. The only way to diagnose this is with a clinical evaluation by a Lyme-literate physician. The only reasonable test for this is a SPECT brain scan. Both of these are available at Amen. Although Lyme is an internal factor it also reduces the ability to react to and deal with external stresses.

    Comment by Anju Kaur — May 12, 2023 @ 5:49 AM

  15. wonderful advice!

    Comment by Doug Morris — December 6, 2023 @ 8:31 PM

  16. excellent advice!

    Comment by Doug Morris — December 11, 2023 @ 4:23 PM

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