Sudden episodes of fatigue

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Health Assured team

12 June 2024

In today’s modern and fast-paced world, feeling fatigued and experiencing low energy is a common reality for many. We feel the need to be on 24/7 and if we are not grinding at work or busy with our personal lives, we might be branded as lazy, undriven, or a social pariah.

We hardly looking up from our phones, social pressures can feel daunting, and financial stress after the pre-pandemic world and the cost-of-living crisis weighs heavily on wallets. It’s no wonder that many of us feel fatigued.

What is fatigue?

Fatigue is the feeling of prolonged and constant tiredness, with many people experiencing a lack of energy and exhaustion throughout the day. Continuous fatigue risks burnout and can aggravate existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, encouraging negative cycles of fatigue and worsening mental wellbeing.

What are sudden episodes of fatigue?

Sudden episodes of fatigue are bursts of chronic tiredness and lack of energy felt throughout the day that are sudden and unexpected. This could be caused by several factors, such as stress, anxiety, and medical conditions, like allergies.

Understanding the root cause of sudden episodes of fatigue can be difficult and demoralizing, adding further pressure on daily life.

What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, is a long-term condition that causes extreme tiredness and low energy, affecting different parts of the body and making everyday things difficult.  

It can make everyday activities demanding, such as showering or walking to work. It may also interfere with sleeping patterns and reinforce challenges, such as insomnia.

What are fatigue symptoms?

Fatigue symptoms vary from person to person and depends on the cause of the fatigue, for example, someone may feel tired after social gatherings if they have social anxiety.

There are a range of symptoms that indicate that someone is experiencing sudden episodes of fatigue. Symptoms may be sudden and happen regularly.

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Lack of energy
  • Slow responses
  • Dizziness
  • Low motivation
  • Slows the immune system
  • Weakened concentration

What are the causes of sudden episodes of fatigue?

There are many reasons why someone may have sudden episodes of fatigue, such as not getting enough sleep, dealing with a pressured work environment, and medical conditions, like Fibromyalgia.

Someone may experience sudden episodes of fatigue because of something underlying, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis. However, it can also be something as simple as a lifestyle choice, such as eating too much greasy food. If you are worried about your symptoms the best first step is to speak to your GP.

Common reasons for sudden episodes of fatigue:

  • Restless sleep
  • Lack of sleep
  • Too little exercise
  • Too much exercise
  • Diet
  • Low iron levels
  • Stress
  • Pre-existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety
  • Medical conditions
  • Allergies


Fatigue and mental health


There is a strong link between depression and fatigue with up to 90% of people experience sleep disturbances having depression.

Depression disturbs the central nervous system, causing issues with neurotransmitter function, such as dopamine and serotonin. This hormonal imbalance negatively affects sleep, mood, and the ability to function as normal day to day, exacerbating fatigue symptoms.

Depression is also linked to restless sleep which ultimately contributes to fatigue and low energy throughout the day. Even though depression is closely connected to fatigue, having sudden episodes of fatigue doesn’t mean you have depression.

Stress and burnout

Stress is common and expected in the busy lives we lead in modern society, and it will affect everyone at some point in their lives. Continued stress will eventually lead to burnout if not treated and this can be debilitating on mental health.

Like depression, extreme fatigue and stress are closely linked but they are not mutually exclusive. Someone experiencing stress may not feel extremely fatigued and vice versa. Despite this, they aggravate each other, encouraging a negative cycle of feeling stressed and fatigued if left untreated.


Anxiety is the feeling of fear and hesitation when faced with a stressful situation or a trigger. It plunges the mind into what is called the ‘fight or flight’ response, releasing a surge of hormones and emotions into the body. It’s common to feel drained and tried after this response because the body goes through physical symptoms, such as nausea, muscle tensions, and chest pain.

Often, people with anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder, worry about things excessively and thus have a higher risk of fatigue.

To give an example, someone with social anxiety disorder may not want to go out with friends as social interactions easily zap their energy and causes fatigue.

Sleep also has a part to play in this. Like stress, anxiety can leave people worrying at night when they want to fall asleep, encouraging less sleep and more fatigue the next day.

How to offset sudden episodes of fatigue?

  1. Speak to your GP

Seek medical advice from your GP or doctor, they will be able to assist you in finding the best treatment for you. So, you can boost your energy levels and get back to your life.

  1. Speak to a counsellor

Counsellors will offer an outlet to vent about challenges, such as anxiety or depression issues. They will assist you in overcoming mental pressures and offer different perspectives on how you can increase your energy levels.

  1. Create a good bedtime routine

Set up a good bedtime routine by taking all screens out of your bedroom so you are better able to fall asleep and stay asleep for longer. Keep your bedtime and wake hours as consistent as possible, even on your days off, this way your circadian rhythm can flow smoothy and increase sleep quality.

  1. Move more

Exercise is known to boost energy levels through the increase of blood flow and oxygen circulation throughout the body. Try not to overdo it and make sure you have enough rest days as exercising too much can wear the body out and bring you back to feeling fatigued.

  1. Drink more water

On average, the human body is 60% water, so it’s no surprise that we feel tired when we haven’t drank enough water. Dehydration creates and intensifies feelings of fatigue, having a glass of water may be the simple trick for boosting energy levels.


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