Conquering Fatigue, One Assessment at a Time

Do you:

If so, and your symptoms haven’t stopped after increasing your quantity and quality of rest,  it might be time for you to see a healthcare provider.

At Balance Psychiatric Services, we don’t only treat mental health conditions. Our nurse practitioners (like Doug Ludington, FNP who specializes in assessing and treating fatigue) are examine your whole body and mind — not just one aspect of your health.

In this blog, we’ll go through what our providers may ask in an intake appointment to help find the right causes and treatment for your fatigue.

What is Fatigue?

Fatigue is a constant feeling of tiredness or exhaustion that doesn’t get better with rest.

According to a 2021-2022 Centers for Disease Control study, chronic fatigue syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis) affects 1.3% of the U.S. population. General fatigue symptoms affect millions more, with varying numbers ranging from 20 to 40%.

Fatigue is often linked to poor sleep, but it can also make it hard to do everyday activities, mess with your mood, and lower productivity. However, sleep problems aren’t the only cause of fatigue. Stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, and underlying health issues can also contribute to feeling this way.

Some signs of fatigue are:

Assessing All The Factors Contributing to Fatigue

It’s important to examine all aspects of your health when getting a diagnosis. Because dozens of mental and physical health conditions can cause fatigue and are often diagnosed together, it’s essential to analyze your symptoms thoroughly.

Here are some general questions providers ask people of all ages when assessing fatigue.

What time do you go to bed?

Everyone’s bedtime varies based on their lifestyle, work schedules, and personal habits. While going to bed at the same time every night isn’t always possible,  a consistent bedtime helps regulate your body’s internal clock and promotes better sleep quality.

How quickly do you fall asleep?

Falling asleep quickly after going to bed indicates good sleep health. However, your sleep hygiene may not be up to par if it takes you hours to fall asleep. Anxiety, a bad sleeping environment, or a number of other lifestyle factors could make it harder for your brain to wind down at night.

When do you get up in the morning?

Consistent wake-up times are as important as regular bedtimes. They help maintain your body’s circadian rhythm, which regulates your sleep quality and reduces fatigue.

Do you wake up frequently throughout the night?

Waking up multiple times during the night disrupts the sleep cycle, leading to insufficient rest and making you feel more fatigued. Various factors, including stress, sleep disorders, or environmental disturbances, can cause this.

Do you snore?

Snoring can indicate sleep apnea, a condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. Addressing snoring is vital, as sleep apnea can significantly impact sleep quality and contribute to fatigue. Since kids may not always know they snore, it’s important for parents to monitor their child’s sleep so they have accurate knowledge of whether snoring is present or not.

How much exercise do you get during the day?

Regular physical activity promotes better sleep, helping you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper rest. However, exercising too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect, making it harder to fall asleep and increasing fatigue. For kids, this includes rigorous playtime before bed.

Do you have a family history of anemia, sleep apnea, or obesity?

Each condition has a genetic component, meaning it’s often passed down from generation to generation in families, significantly impacting sleep and fatigue. For example, sleep apnea is often found in families, and obesity can make this condition more severe. Anemia can cause fatigue and disrupt sleep, while obesity is linked to various sleep disorders.

What’s your trauma history?

Traumatic experiences can lead to sleep disturbances and disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), contributing to fatigue. Addressing these through therapy and support is crucial for improving sleep and overall health.

Learn more about poor mental health kids in this blog.

Factors Impacting Adult Fatigue

In addition to the questions above, a provider might ask adults different questions than a child due to developmental and lifestyle differences. Here’s what you can expect if you’re over 18 and see a provider to assess fatigue symptoms.

What keeps you up at night?

Worrying about work, finances, or personal issues can keep you awake and increase fatigue. Any type of stress is bad for your body, so identifying what’s bothering you is the first step toward managing them and improving sleep.

What’s your stress tolerance?

If your provider asks you how you manage stress, it’s important to answer honestly and be open to feedback. Since stress is such a huge catalyst for fatigue, techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga can help improve sleep and reduce your symptoms. They calm the mind and prepare the body for rest.

Are you a smoker?

Nicotine is a stimulant that makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. The more you smoke and the longer you consume nicotine, the worse the impact. Quitting smoking is crucial for reducing fatigue and improving overall health.

Do you have a history of insomnia or trouble sleeping?

Chronic insomnia can significantly impact health and increase fatigue. Your provider might ask you how long you’ve struggled with insomnia, how many hours you’re sleeping, and what your sleep environment looks like. If you’ve had a sleep evaluation before, have the results ready to discuss.

An Accurate Diagnosis Requires Specific, Through Testing

After you meet with one of our nurse practitioners to discuss your symptoms, they’ll order different tests, such as lab work, medical tests, or other evaluations. There isn’t one specific test to diagnose fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome, but providers will often do several, sometimes even dozens, of tests, ranging from bloodwork to a sleep study.

It may seem overwhelming, but the lengthy assessment is necessary to pinpoint exactly what’s causing you to feel so drained. Here are a few types of testing, screenings, or referrals our providers might recommend:

Address Your Fatigue Symtpoms with Balance Psychiatric Services

Whether you’ve felt tired for a few weeks or have dealt with chronic fatigue for years, you deserve to figure out what’s causing it. Reducing the fatigue and exhaustion your body feels can significantly improve the quality of your life, allowing you to regain your energy, focus, and overall well-being. By addressing the root causes, you can return to enjoying daily activities, achieving your goals, and feeling like yourself again.

At Balance Psychiatric Services, our team of family and psychiatric nurse practitioners is dedicated to providing holistic care tailored to your unique symptoms of fatigue. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first step toward a healthier, more energetic life.