Anxiety and Fatigue: Must I Be So Tired All the Time?

September 28, 2010 Kate White

Anxiety and fatigue resulting from anxiety are a fact of life for those of us with anxiety disorders. What can we do to manage the fatigue coming from anxiety?

We have ways to describe anxiety and fatigue: Bone-weary, bushed, all in, dazed, dopey, depleted, drugged. Washed-up, worn-out, dozy, dreamy. Soporific, sluggish, torpid, tuckered, done. One of the hardest parts of living with anxiety is how tired you get. Anxiety can cause extreme fatigue. In fact, the fatigue of anxiety, that lack of energy, is often the first tip that something's really not okay.

You hear a lot of people today, worrying about lack of sleep. Quite rightly: More stress, longer hours, most spent under fluorescent lights that induce derealization, confusing our body clocks. The body usually 'gets it' and adjusts energy levels based on the amount of ambient light. Usually. If you're dealing with the symptoms of anxiety as well, it's harder. When the body doesn't know if it's time to stop or go (anxiety is big on mixed signals) then fatigue and insomnia may just settle in with a long-term lease.

That being said, people tend to overestimate the time they spend trying to get some rest, and underestimate the total amount they sleep. Yes, that's from a study. No, I can't cite it. I read about it a few years ago whilst nursing some lovely ladies with dementia, depression and such.

Manage Fatigue from Anxiety with a Broader Approach

anxiety_fatigue_kwhite3None of us have unlimited resources, though a lot of anxiety, depression and bipolar sufferers have a surprising amount of energy. Anxiety is energy, for that matter. It's just not that useful when it comes in the form of panic attacks or negative thinking and worry.

Anxiety disorders wreak merry mayhem with your ability to recover from things like a poor night's sleep. Maybe you don't necessarily need more sleep. Maybe it takes a broader approach to control anxiety.

So, what are you doing to treat anxiety? Breaking free from anxiety is about somewhat nebulous things: mindfulness, the absence or presence of joy or peace, support, and those anxiety coping skills I'm always on about.

Don't know any coping skills? Here's one:

Think of a cup. That cup contains what I'll go ahead and call my daily allowance of useful energy.

  • Is there enough to get me through the day?
  • How will I use it, and how strict do I need to be?

You don't want a dried-out cup by midday. I like leftovers, because I'm not that sure tomorrow won't be harder, that I won't stumble or have a panic attack. Planning your day based on your energy level gives you an honest idea of what you can do in the following hours without overpromising or accepting challenges that will take too much out of you.

Let's face it, nobody lives without anxiety. Even Mother Theresa had moments of uncertainty and doubt. It really is okay to take a break, to try to find that space to let go and relax. Just as we underestimate how much we sleep, I know I underestimate how much I have to do in a day, week, year. I also underestimate how much anxiety affects me, and how much effort it takes to manage anxiety and fatigue.

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APA Reference
White, K. (2010, September 28). Anxiety and Fatigue: Must I Be So Tired All the Time?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 24 from

Author: Kate White

October, 11 2018 at 11:10 am

I have been a very anxious person for most of my life. When I was younger I used to have very bad separation anxiety from my mom, which has now shifted to pretty severe GAD at 23 years old. I feel like my life is consumed with so much worry and fatigue all the time. I still at times feel the separation anxiety feelings from childhood. I don’t really know if that has fully gone away. I also feel guilty because my parents have always lived such fantastic lives and I feel as though I should be too, but I really struggle to fight for myself. I am very empathetic towards what everyone is going through.

Cindy Brooks
May, 23 2018 at 10:26 am

Dear Friends, my heart breaks hearing the hopelessness in some of the comments. I have had GAD most of my life. Sometimes I go to counseling, sometimes medication, sometimes a combination. Its a journey to be sure. Friends, I know everybody thinks they have answers but I can tell you: Go to church, pray, read your bible - keep it up and don't stop - and I promise you will feel better. The relationship with Christ that comes out of these activities is what will make the difference but the activities is the building blocks of what builds your faith. Prayers going up for all of you.

December, 4 2017 at 7:36 am

I wish someone provide some solutions to daily fatigue, exhaustion and tired ness besides Sade ness, tiredness, sadness, loneliness, hopeless ness etc. We needs to find some solution as no body seems to have any solutions.... I'm getting lost... I know I'm not alone but spending whole day and sleepless nights worrying with racing mind with all nagative thoughts plus on going supportless long keep wasting time like this. When it will change instead adding mor miseries of additional physical symptoms plus existing and prolonging mental symptoms...... Some helping hand must join here to help, respond and guide as GP, Psychitrist, Psyco Therepists etc so far failed to provide any relief...... please... please some one also provide solutions too. Mind your s freaking, paining, frustrating with sevre headatch daily not letting relax 24/7. No one recognize the mental sickness as they see you ok from out side whereas you are going through hell from inside. Loosing atleast moral support too as our this sickness is not visible.... Sorry for long expressions may be it will ease some of mine and your pains partners.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Carlos M
April, 16 2018 at 6:15 am

Hello Momo7, I feel your pain. I too have suffered from anxiety, and a majority of it is self inflicted. The first thing you need to do. Is not condemn or beat yourself up. You are Normal and it’s ok to have fears. We all have fears. Everyone of us. It’s just about not focusing on the fears and letting the fears control you. Anxiety is a natural and normal response to a fear. But we tend to exaggerate the situation and convince ourselves that we will always have this anxiety. We blame everything on our anxiety. We keep looking for it to see if we are ok. We panic and think every physical sensation is anxiety. That is a lie your mind and thoughts have accepted as true. You have to change your belief system and don’t beat yourself up. Try and relax with breathing techniques. There are things out of our control. We just have to not try and be so perfect and stress everything. Start putting positive phrases in your mind. We have become addicted to negative thinking. We must break these habits gradually and slowly and you will free yourself. Take one day at a time. Enjoy the beauty of life. But remember you are a work in progress. Some days are better than others. You will be fine. Leave the past in the past and focus on today. Control what you can control and let the rest go. God bless you and love you my friend. Take care. Be at peace and a sound mind. That’s how we suppose to live. We are not meant to live in fear. Live, Laugh and Love.❤️

Dennis Simsek
November, 10 2017 at 9:09 pm

After spending 6 years in this Tiredness but wired state due to chronic anxiety I knew emotional depletion had completely set it. Thanks so much for the great article, just another great voice to help others gain the clarity they need for anxiety recovery

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 14 2017 at 1:23 pm

Dennis, thank you! Your definitions regarding tiredness but wired, a state of chronic anxiety, topped off with emotional depletion, sounds like you’ve just described me as well. Even the time frame of 6 years! Wow. I’d add a huge amount of major depressive disorder the anxiety is fighting against and that’s me in a very exhausted, drained state of battling with myself to go on or lay down. Laying down to shut our minds off and sleep is another thing entirely. I dread the fight my body has with my mind and my mind has with my body knowing how it feels when you don’t get the near proper rest. Then when it’s time to get up in the morning when you may have only been able to shut your eyes for a very short time. Ugh. Those are the really bad mornings when the wired puts you into overdrive and you’re wondering just when you’ll be exhausted enough to actually sleep. Thank you again. I wish for you and all of us, better days and nights, along with bettering our mental health which we need for better physical health.

October, 15 2017 at 9:05 pm

I'm feeling the same 'super tired and on cipralex for my anxiety but no change even when I double dose to 20 mg

Marilyn Lundrigan
August, 28 2017 at 1:23 am

I feel exactly the same ,I do go on a website called
Go to articles then symptoms it's wonderful to have the symptoms explained and how it affects your body.My original symptoms have have gone buthave been replaced by others,the fatigue is awful.I want to know when am I going to get better.Ive stared to go out for a walk for 40minutes the last two day and I'm wiped out and need to rest after woods but I'm going to see if it makes any difference to my days in general.Heres hoping...

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 28 2017 at 7:49 am

Thanks for sharing that resource, Marilyn. Any time we introduce something new into our routine, it can take some time to get used to how our bodies feel. Take it slowly and listen to your body.

In reply to by mrenzi

Ravi Singh
October, 5 2017 at 1:53 am

Great advise ....yes I myself have started to exercise and am bushed after so lets see if how we feel as time goes by.

July, 11 2017 at 2:30 am

I to live with anxiety and have done for many years now .it is exhausting the fear and the constant panic.
Meditation and excercise is what helps me .I'm not talking about a marathon just a 10 min walk our the house daily .
Every day is hard work .I try and achive small tasks .this brings some positivity into my life.
I don't panic about having a panic attack any more because there becoming so frequent for nour reason that I can pin point other than exhausted from anxiety .
Every day is a battle but if it wasnth a battle with anxiety it would be another battle .like million on others out there .
I try and be kind to myself byou givingredients myself a real hug and tell myself this is okay.
This morning I'm exhausted want to curl into bed and sleep as soon exhausted .but instead I have to try and live a normal life as I deserve to and my family need there mum.
To everyone anxiety is horrendous to live with and a constant battle .do not give up fine small thinGSM that work for u .
Here's my list
Tiny budha Web site
Micro wave meals on really bad days foods importanthat
Putting the phone laptop away 6 pm to rest the mind
Except this is where I am today and to try and be thankful for being alive even though it can be a living nightmare
Recognise Ime feeling bad but there is a lot people worse of
Monitor menstrual cycle this plays havoc with my not always down to plain anxiety hormones are contributing to fluctuating anxiety
I Trust my family and partner when can't trust your decision making with para thoughts
I am learning it doesn't matter what others think about me they don't walk my battle every day
Be a best friend to yourself no one nows me better than me

Joe wilder
July, 4 2016 at 7:01 am

Steve Conway I'm in sc also is there anyway possible for me to talk with u thanks

Jessica Chalinor
July, 2 2016 at 3:39 am

Hello everyone, reading these comments are very comforting knowing that you and I are not alone, but I am sadden to see we all suffer through chronic fatigued, it is so disabling and causes depression.
I have had pretty severe anxiety for a year and 6 months, I am a constant worry wart and I don't know how to overcome worries... when I see threads saying "postpone you're worries" when I see stuff like that I get so angry and I cry so much because I mentally cannot or don't know how to.
Over the last 7 months my anxiety has got far worse and when I say this I mean I am constantly thinking everyday about whether or not I will sleep at night.
I can handle worrying about worse things than worrying about sleep, because sleep is so important and is one of the key factors for a healthy lifestyle these thoughts have robbed me from life...
But even if do get 7-8 hours sleep most days I wake up feeling so foggy... within an hour or 2 hours the feeling slowly fades but it doesn't go away entirely..
Somedays I am so tired, I have brain fogged, I can't concentrate and I have no energy.
I also don't see my friends anymore and I don't work which kills me :(
Because I feel this way almost everyday the first thing I think about when I wake up is how horrible the day will be simply because know I will feel the same as everyday.
I will do almost ANYTHING to overcome this and live a happy life.. but its not so easy..
I had an acupuncture session 2 weeks ago and within the next 2 weeks will be seeing a kinesiologist... I don't know if this will help but I am trying...
If someone out there can please help me or give me some guidance I will so appreciative
I will mention my diet has been bad and I don't exercise simply but lay in bed most 70% of the day because of the chronic sleepiness and fatigue feeling i have..
Thank you so much.

Robert Amos
May, 8 2016 at 6:28 am

I, too, am suffering from anxiety, insomnia, lack of energy, and feeling like a panic attack is coming. I can't perform my job anymore and have used all of my sick time.
My girl friend of over three years left me because it was like dating an eighty year old. In addition, I've gained about twenty pounds from trying to keep my blood sugar up.
I can't sleep for more than three hours at a time, if that. I'm depressed, scared, and angry. I want my life back!!! I can't keep my eyes open during the day and can't close them at night.
Its comforting to see others have the same problem. I want to exorcise, but I'm scared of losing the low amount off of energy I have.
My doctors been no help. I may ask him about that one med the other guy suggested, I'll Google it first. I may do exercise directly after eating dinner but just for ten minutes to start.
Thanks for everyone's comments.

March, 10 2016 at 11:05 am

Start praying this one word out of the book of Timothy. Say this over and over and over and boer Out loud, so you can hear it, Gods word is medicine to all your flesh, and by saying this one simple scripture over and over,you will see amazing results. What have you got to lose. Btw there are no side effects either.. Say For God has not given me a spirit of fear,but if power and of love and a SOUND MIND! You are the healed! Thank Jesus that you are. God bless.

lizette vela
February, 16 2016 at 8:51 am

I feel this way every day. It pretty much runs my life I feel so much anxiety and weakness to the point of thinking I'm going to pass out. I have dealt with this for almost a year and haven't been able to work. I'm not giving up though it's the hardest thing in the world but I clench my fists and I tell my anxiety your not going to win anymore. Then I make myself go to the gym and say if u pass out oh well but haven't passed out yet and after my workout I usually feel at least 50 percent better.

January, 25 2016 at 7:37 am

Stacey- I hear you, and I think everyone posting here hears you. Sounds like people need help on this forum, but there's no one here to help :/ I suffer from depression and anxiety as well... It is good to hear I'm not alone from the comments made here...and some people have some words of advice to share, but some people are looking for real help... Maybe another forum would be better? It would be tragic for anyone to get in a really bad place and something bad happen because they tried to reach out for help, and got none....

stacey barnette
January, 12 2016 at 8:21 am

I need a doctor in the Concord,N.C.28025 area who will give me the right medicine for my ANXIETY,SOCIAL ANXIETY,INSOMNIA,AND DEPRESSION. I am a mother of two and a 35yr. old wife of 15yrs.,together 20 but, I need a doctor who will not judge or assume and truly help me,does any of them actually care what your going through daily its like being a prisoner within yourself. I have good insurance,I need a good recommendation or referral please if anyone hears me.......

January, 9 2016 at 9:18 am

People posting here are not alone.
I am 45 and suffer from a blood disorder that gives me very low iron. Iron supplements are necessary but don't seem to help much. The last time I had my iron checked it was actually in the normal range!
I can't focus on anything. I procrastinate on almost everything because only with a surge of adrenaline can I get things done. Then I do sloppy, hurried work. I feel tired ALL day every day from the moment I wake up (no matter how much I have slept) to the moment I got to sleep.
I managed to hold on to a high paying job for many years but I got laid off last year. Now I'm stuck and facing financial problems. I don't know where I'll be able to live or how I can live. I now also have severe anxiety and can barely sleep. I tried looking for jobs for quite some time now but no one wants to hire me.
I visited doctors years ago (I've had this problem since getting mono my 20s) but they could find nothing wrong. My only symptom is extreme tiredness, I don't have any of the other Chronic Fatigue symptoms. Yet my life is turning into a living hell just the same.

December, 4 2015 at 1:02 pm

I suffer with severe anxiety/depression and panic attacks.For the last 5 years I am barely functioning I have no energy and have isolated myself and it is affecting my family.I am lost as what to do.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Ayman Alolaby
August, 21 2017 at 2:53 am

take it easy... i have suffered the same problem on same date like u.... i am really tired as well, but try to start over everyday and fight back..... u can do it.... talk to me if u want and i can recharge your confidence and self esteem.....

August, 21 2014 at 1:07 pm

I am 32yo and i suffer from GAD ! I feel exhausted all the time and i don't even work because of that ! All i do is stay at home and run some usual daily errands but still I feel like i was walking for 100 miles all day long! This affects my life so much and I am so young to feel this way. It hurts me to see all my friends going out, hiking, going to the pool parties and having so much fun but I need to stay at home because Im afraid I'm gonna have another panic attack! Im so weak and I'm worry I'm gonna get into a depression very soon if this continues :(

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 1 2017 at 6:49 pm

Just eant to say .. you are not alone . i been suffering for years now . but im still to young . this feeling hell. soooo yeah sometimes the only way i can "relax" my self and move on doing evryday stuff is thinking like " I can live life even when i feel like this , im to young anyway " and found out that works . well sometimes , especilay now that hes been years and im realy tired of "hiding" and not everydau stuff like mormal people.. But yeah sometimes i feel complity ill and just stay home , especilay whem dont have any important things to do outside . BUT i realy want help not beeing able to funcion 100% on everyday life it sucks . I would add one last thing .. My dream always was to be an actor AND im absoluty NOT "shy" if im infront of camers or something like that lol

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 1 2017 at 6:55 pm

Sorry for some typos i made , typing ftom phone and English is not my firts langiage ...

July, 20 2014 at 5:15 am

I'm 45 and have anxiety which I have controlled fairly well through CBT, but over the past 6 months have been having sudden bouts of yawning followed by heavy drowsiness and exhaustion with a feeling of shortness of breath. Sometimes it lasts for a day, sometimes an hour and goes away. Sometimes having a drink makes it feel less intense. I'm at wits end about this as it scares me and causes further anxiety. All my health exams are fine but I am going for a sleep apnea test. I have not used any meds aside from Xanax (. 25) once in a while. I'm waiting to see if sleep apnea is playing a part or if these are new manifestations of a panic attack which I don't have often. Diane, you mention neurontin but I don't see it prescribed for gad or anxiety. Anyone get these sudden bouts of exhaustion. They can come on more noticeably when I slow down, not typically when I'm busy with work or other things. Any thoughts or help would be greatly appreciated.

July, 13 2014 at 9:25 am

I've been suffering with no to low energy after a series of stressful events caused me to have severe anxiety. I was sleeping okay with medication but no matter how much sleep I got, continued to be exhausted. After many years of tests, medications, diets, etc., my new doctor put me on Neurontin for my anxiety. After 2 weeks on this med, not only is my anxiety GONE, but I have the energy I had in my 20s - almost too much now that I'm 58. It's been such a revelation to know that it was anxiety stealing my energy the whole time! Just passing this info along in case it could help someone else. I literally have my life back.

July, 10 2014 at 2:42 am

i would advise all of you to try strenuous exercise as a way to combat anxiety and stress. eg weight training, running . you cannot be anxious when you are lifting a heavy weight or running hard. you will also get an endorphin rush. a sense of well being will ensue after a while. forget medication unless you have a chemical imbalance in your brain. and all the talking is only useful up to a point

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 10 2018 at 4:07 am

You say you can't be anxious, but as someone who lives with health anxiety, centred around my heart, I can tell you that's untrue. Exercise and post-exercise will lead to a panic attack for myself and many others. This comment only serves to make a lot of people suffering with anxiety feel more like a failure and more like something is majorly wrong with them.

June, 28 2014 at 8:32 am

I have some things that help with the tiredness take some cold water massage it into your forehead & pat dry with a towel eat some cherries because cherries have antixiodants in them that help wake you up after that drink a few cups of water hope this helps-
Xoxo <3

Chris Maitland
June, 22 2014 at 9:14 pm

Both me and my wife are exhausted all day and every day,we are on low residue diets,we are very wife has a stoma and she can't tolerate a lot of foods in fear of stoma blowouts and blockages to the stoma,so we only eat bland food.we haven't eaten fresh fruit or vegetables for 4months.

Steve Conway
June, 14 2014 at 7:01 am

Why are there so many people running ads that propose to stop anxiety and panic attacks? This just is not so!
I have seen many doctors and shrinks over my forty years with this malady and am still having these attacks.
I am convinced it will be with me as long as I remain on this earth. Some with mild problems may be helped to a degree, but nothing cures it as so many on the net claim.
Temporary help maybe, but '"one size does not fit all."
What you end up doing for yourself is the closest to help I have received.

Ricardo Barcena
March, 19 2014 at 2:27 am

This is part of my life on a daily basis.

Lady Delphinium
August, 25 2011 at 4:30 am

You hit it! This is a great article and another one I'll link in my "Helpful Articles" list on the sidebar of my blog!

September, 28 2010 at 8:24 am

Oh dear tuckered one. I'm with you xoxo
Here are a few more descriptives ...Wasted, blasted to the core, done in, done like dinner, deep-fried, flat out, the fuel tank's not only sprung a leak but a *gash*! ...
Over the years I've come to take a very practical, body-based-FIRST approach to anxiety ... which is a state of alarm that every human being experiences to some degree ...
The basics. Food, water, safety, shelter, warmth, movement, rest, quiet, mindful breath ... With the lifelong, heightened state of anxiety "templated" by chronic and complex PTSD that I live with, I keep having to return to these most simple acts of sustenance and survival. Every injury and illness we can suffer breaks the body, brain and metabolism down to some degree ... and the concurrent anxiety is downright *existential* ... For the organism, survival is at stake.
It *is* exhausting. At 51 years of age, I sense this exhaustion in my heart -- in the organ itself.
There's no more important work for any of us to do than to keep ourselves alive and thriving as best we can, without doing injury to ourselves or anyone else ...
... Still so tickled pink that you are writing here ... Are you keeping up your other blog as well?

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