I remember to this day, an ex-girlfriend of mine (who later dumped me due to my anxiety) saying that I was always complaining that I was tired. It was true! I was always tired! I seem to remember that just getting through the day seemed an effort. My levels of anxiety were so high that I was burning through energy so quickly it was untrue! If you reading this article suffer from crippling panic attacks and intense anxiety then it may not come as any surprise. High levels of anxiety can be draining, not only to yourself but to those around you. It makes perfect sense why it might zap all your energy and those around you. Dr Joshua Kaplow a clinical psychologist says “Anxiety drives our sympathetic nervous system into overdrive. It raises our heart rate, blood pressure, increases muscle tension, and releases toxins into our system that can cause inflammation. All of this can make you feel bad, we can feel fatigue and malaise strictly from being anxious.”
If you are otherwise healthy, and are exhausted all the time then this may explain why. You may have tried drinking large amounts of coffee, this more often than not will make anxiety far worse, as coffee contains caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, which will stimulate the fight or flight response. You may be sleeping normally too, waking up feeling exhausted after seven hours of sleep. Kimberly Hershenson, a registered therapist says that “If you are sleeping at least seven hours a night and still feel tired, it is likely something else is going on, Give yourself a couple nights of seven to eight hours sleep, and if you don’t feel better, it may be time to check in with a doctor”. You may get sleepy before a big social event. Those that suffer particularly with social anxiety will often feel drained being amongst a large group. Conversely those without social anxiety may get energised being around a large group of people. Kimberly Hershenson goes onto to say that “If your tiredness correlates with these events, it may be a sign of anxiety.”
Having physical symptoms goes ‘hand in hand’ when suffering from anxiety, such as having butterfly sensations in one’s stomach. As Hershenson says, if you’re struggling with anxiety, “you likely will experience other symptoms such as stomach pain, migraines, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations.” Along with this you will experience tiredness. Feeling tired after a long hard day at the office is one thing, but if you are constantly tired then this is indication of an anxiety disorder. This is because you are constantly on high alert. Clinical psychologist Gladys Frankel explains further in relation to the high alert status “That high alert status creates intense cortisol levels rushing through your body, it’s like your body is constantly asking, “Where is the danger? and this can be exhausting”.
Anxiety can have a big impact upon your appetite, this creates a vicious cycle that increases the level of fatigue that you are feeling. Dr Joshua Klapow says, “You may skip meals, not have an appetite, and thus not have adequate nutrition to keep your energy levels up. Anxiety can also dehydrate you, playing into feelings of fatigue and malaise.”
There is definitely a correlation between anxiety, tiredness and the modern busy world in which we live in. Dr. Steven Zodkoy, author of Misdiagnosed: The Adrenal Fatigue Link, elaborates further. The problem with today’s stressors is that they are low grade (like our phones ringing, 24-hour social media, etc.) but continuous, which means the fight-or-flight pathway never turns off or has a chance to rebuild.”. It does seem in this 24/7 world in which we live in that there is no let up and anxious people more than any other are suffering more.