When people ask me for help, one of the most frequent complaints is of being tired and not having enough energy to do the things they want to do. They also may complain of being overwhelmed and confused. Some use the expression “brain fog” and complain of not being able to think clearly.
The origins of low-energy can be physical, emotional or spiritual. I won’t deal with the spiritual here, except to say the phrase that comes to mind is “dark night of the soul.”
Let’s look at physical origins first.
Low-energy following surgery is your body’s way of holding you back to give itself time to heal. Low-energy usually accompanies flu and other short-term illnesses. Low-energy is a major symptom of some poorly understood chronic ailments such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
On a personal note, a few years ago I went through a period of being overly tired and lacking energy. I was also feeling cold all the time. I asked my doctor to refer me to a specialist. It turned out that I had atypical hypothyroidism.
With meds I got back my ability to regulate heat, and my energy bounced back to its normally enthusiastic level.
On the psychological front, low-energy and tiredness follow loss; it’s a normal part of grieving. Low energy is a symptom of untreated trauma, whether or not the trauma meets the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Low-energy almost always accompanies depression, including depression that may have been self-induced by drinking too much. I’m sure you’ve heard the latter type of tiredness called “sleeping it off.”
The physical or emotional (or spiritual) origins of chronic tiredness are often unclear.
If you experience tiredness day after day, it can be very worrisome. And worry itself is a form of emotional stress that can lead only to more tiredness. Without intervention you could be in a downward spiral.
In the end the origins of your low energy don’t really matter, because by the time your tiredness becomes a serious problem, it is certainly both a physical and emotional problem and perhaps even a spiritual one.
However, before you jump to the conclusion that you should see a psychologist, it would be prudent to see your doctor to rule out possible physical reasons for your fatigue.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to help you sleep or to treat other medical conditions.
In any case, however, look after the emotional healing too.
If the origins are physical, the physical problems will heal faster when you regain some peace and optimism.
Worry only slows down physical healing.
If the origins are psychological, such as untreated trauma, finding and treating those origins will almost certainly help you to regain energy and clarity. That reduces worry and leads to more optimism. You get to turn the downward spiral into an upward spiral towards a healthy energy level.
So if a friend or family member is in an energy funk, persuade them to see their doctor. The doctor may be able to help them reverse the problem and may recommend they get emotional help as well.
You can reach Registered Psychologist Dr. Neill Neill for an appointment at 250-752-8684 or through his website: www.neillneill.com/contact.