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What are the Effects of Fatigue?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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Fatigue can affect many different areas of a sufferer's life. The effects of fatigue typically expand into both home and work, which can affect the quality of personal as well as professional relationships. Chronic fatigue is also thought to greatly multiply safety and health risks.

When the body is overly tired and a person feels exhausted a lot of the time, the immune system can be affected, which may increase the risk of disease. These effects of fatigue can lead to digestive disorders, high blood pressure and heart disease. The two types of fatigue are chronic and acute. Chronic fatigue is ongoing and may be caused by a medical condition such as depression or a disease such as cancer. Acute, or sudden, fatigue is temporary and could be brought on through overwork or from not sleeping for one or two nights.

While fatigue is often noticed in physical effects, such as lack of energy, it can also be mental. Mental fatigue is common in people who work with information, especially with stressful deadlines or a high pressure environment. Project managers, writers, accountants, students and many others may suffer the effects of fatigue by feeling overwhelmed mentally. These effects may include a blockage of an ability to create new ideas. For example, writer's block can be a result of mental fatigue. Relaxation can help fight the effects of both physical and mental fatigue.

Sometimes just getting away from projects, such as taking a break or a walk, can reduce mental fatigue. Breathing deeply or doing simple stretches may also help ease the physical effects of fatigue, such as muscle aches and headaches. The effects of both physical and mental fatigue can effect relationships. People who are chronically fatigued tend to be either irritable or inappropriately silly — these effects could especially cause annoyance in the workplace. Family life may also be affected by fatigue if parents feel too tired to spend time with their children on quality activities such as games and bike rides.

Safety risks from feeling sleepy and overtired include falling asleep on the job or while driving. These “micro sleeps” in which fatigued people just shut their eyes and almost instantly fall asleep due to being overtired can be extremely dangerous. Shift workers are often thought to be especially prone to the effects of fatigue because they usually have to sleep at changing hours due to working different shifts. It's often difficult to adjust to changing sleep hours and the result is often feeling tired during the day resulting in micro sleeps. Many accidents may be caused by people experiencing the effects of fatigue because the ability to make smart decisions and prevent accidents is often impaired.

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Discussion Comments
By burcidi — On Feb 20, 2014

Does fatigue cause depression or does depression cause fatigue? I can't figure that out but fatigue and depression definitely seem to go together.

By ddljohn — On Feb 19, 2014

@ZipLine-- I completely agree with you. Last year, I suddenly developed severe fatigue. I'm normally an energetic person and all of the sudden, I became someone that couldn't even get out of bed. If I walked for ten minutes, I was exhausted and doing even simple tasks became difficult. Naturally, I put on weight. I was also depressed.

Eventually, I saw a doctor and a blood test showed that I have hypothyroidism. I'm taking medications for it now and my fatigue has completely disappeared. No one should have to live with these symptoms.

By ZipLine — On Feb 18, 2014

Fatigue has so many negative affects on the body. It causes our metabolic rate to decrease and we burn less calories. This often leads to weight gain, which may cause insulin resistance and disturb our blood sugar levels. If it's not treated, it can turn into a vicious cycle of unending health problems. Often, there is an underlying condition causing the fatigue. If treated, this can nip the problem in the bud.

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