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Three Common Causes of Fatigue and What To Do About Them

Posted by Manuela Boyle on 11 December 2021
Three Common Causes of Fatigue and What To Do About Them

These are the three most common causes of fatigue:

1.Emotional and Mental Stress
Chronic stress wreaks havoc on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, leading to adrenal fatigue, a condition where the adrenal glands stop making enough of the stress hormone cortisol, leaving the body in a depleted state. When you’re stressed, you’re also probably not sleeping your best, which can make fatigue even worse.

We live in a busy world where most people have too much to do and too little time to do it. Constant deadlines and other stressors leave some people stuck in a constant fight-or-flight mode dominated by the sympathetic nervous system. They’re unable to completely calm down.

What To Do About It: The first step is to have your cortisol levels tested and then help heal your adrenal glands 

Taking care of yourself is also important. I often see cancer patients undergoing treatments whose energy levels are significantly low. With evidence-based and personalised help, the energy levels improve, but TLC is also very important. For people stuck in fight or flight mode, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system is important. This counteracts the stimulating effects of the sympathetic nervous system. 

2.Nutritional Deficiencies
Nutrient deficiencies can occur because of a poor diet or poor absorption, or because stress depletes your nutrient levels. Iron deficiency anemia is another good example of a common nutrient deficiency that can lead to fatigue.

What To Do About It: In addition to eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, it is important to get tested for nutrient deficiencies and address the underlying causes of poor absorption such as coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or gastrointestinal dysbiosis (an overgrowth of potentially harmful bacteria or fungi in the gut).

3.Weakened Mitochondria
The mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells. They’re responsible for producing ATP, the fuel that runs our cells. If they’re not working properly, your body won’t produce enough energy and you’ll feel fatigued. Many things can cause mitochondrial dysfunction, including aging, toxin exposure, poor nutrition, and mental stress.

What to do about it:  There are specific nutrients aiming at rejuvenating the mitochondria. Avoiding toxins and reducing mental stress can also help.


Author:Manuela Boyle
Tags:NewsCancerchemotherapy side effectsEnergy


  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia