16 Reasons Why Your Energy is Low or Depleted

Tired. Pooped. Fatigued. Washed out. Drained. Outta energy. These are some standard ways to reflect how you can feel at times…or perhaps more than you’d like. Experiencing low or depleted energy occasionally is normal, but you don’t want to go through life feeling like you can’t get out of first gear, do you?

According to experts, one out of ten people around the world are experiencing persistent tiredness at any one time. An even higher number (one in every five) of Americans say they have fatigue that interferes with their daily lives.

Read about one week to more energy

When low energy becomes chronic, it’s time to uncover the cause and find ways to remedy the situation. The first step, however, is identifying the reason. To help you, we’ve come up with 16 reasons why people can experience low or depleted energy. Could your answer be on this list? If you believe it is—or even if it’s not—it may be time to ask a healthcare provider to help you ferret out the final answer, get tested, and begin the treatment you need.

1. Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is a syndrome that occurs when the adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys, are unable to produce enough hormones (e.g., cortisol, aldosterone, adrenaline) to maintain homeostasis. This typically occurs because of chronic stress or a single extremely stressful situation. Indications that you may have adrenal fatigue include:

  • Feeling tired for no reason, even though you get a sufficient amount of sleep
  • Difficulty getting up in the morning, despite going to bed at a reasonable time
  • Feeling overwhelmed or rundown
  • Cravings for sweets and salty foods
  • Feeling more awake and energetic after 6 PM than you do doing the day
  • Trouble recovering from stress or illness

2. B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 is essential for the formation of red blood cells, optimal functioning of nerve tissue, and absorption of folic acid, among other benefits. A deficiency of vitamin B12 typically develops gradually over years, and initial symptoms may be subtle. It’s estimated that about 6 percent of people aged 60 and older are deficient in vitamin B12 in the United States and the United Kingdom and nearly 20 percent have marginal levels.

When someone does not get enough B12, production of red blood cells declines and will eventually result in anemia, if not treated, once the red blood cell count drops too low. Vitamin B12 deficiency may also result in pernicious anemia, a blood disorder in which individuals cannot make enough intrinsic factor (IF) in the stomach. Without enough IF, individuals cannot absorb B12, which means they require B12 injections that bypass he stomach.

Possible causes of B12 deficiency include Crohn’s disease, short bowel syndrome, atrophic gastritis, weight loss surgery, intestinal parasites, lupus, Graves’ disease, pernicious anemia, following a vegan diet, and chronic alcoholism. Risk of deficiency also increases with age.

The most common symptoms of B12 deficiency anemia are:

  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations (irregular and/or heavy beating of the heart)
  • Sore tongue or mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Yellowish or pale skin
  • Menstrual difficulties

A simple blood test can identify the presence of vitamin B12 deficiency.

3. Candida

Candida is a fungus (type of yeast) that exists in low levels in the mouth and intestinal tract where it helps with absorption of nutrients and digestion. When this fungus is overproduced, however, it can cause an infection in the vagina, mouth, and intestinal tract, although it may also affect the skin and mucous membranes. Among people who have a weakened immune system, the infection can spread to the blood and membranes around the brain and heart.

Factors that can cause candida infection include eating a diet high in processed carbohydrates and sugar, chronic stress, use of antibiotics, use of oral contraceptives, a weakened immune system, and having diabetes. Signs and symptoms of a candida infection include:

  • Exhaustion (regardless of how much sleep you get)
  • Cravings for sweets
  • Vaginal and/or urinary tract infection (recurring)
  • Gas and bloating
  • Thrush/white coating on the tongue
  • Bad breath
  • Joint pain
  • Mental fogginess
  • Loss of libido
  • Chronic allergy, sinus, nasal drip problems
  • Mood swings

If you suspect you have a candida infection, a comprehensive stool test should provide the answer so you can begin treatment, including dietary changes.

4. Depression

Most of us feel sad or lonely occasionally, but when such feelings become overwhelming, cause physical problems, significantly impact everyday activities, and last for months, then you’re likely dealing with clinical or major depression. It can reduce your energy levels and disrupt your sleep, making you even more tired during the day.

If you are experiencing the following symptoms of depression, it’s time to seek help from a mental health professional.

  • Fatigue and reduced energy
  • Trouble with memory, concentration, making decisions
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and/or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Insomnia, excessive sleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Persistent physical symptoms such as headache, cramps, pains that are not relieved with treatment
  • Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or being “empty”
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

5. Fibromyalgia

Although the first symptom you may think of when you think about fibromyalgia is chronic pain, chronic fatigue also is a significant part of this syndrome. Approximately 10 million people in the United States have fibromyalgia, and the condition affects 3 to 6 percent of the world’s population. The majority of those affected (75-90%) are women. It can occur alone or with other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, although experts have noted that the central nervous system appears to be hypersensitive in people with this disease. Diagnosis is a challenge because there are no definitive tests, the signs and symptoms mimic those of numerous other conditions, and symptoms vary considerably from person to person. That said, here are typical signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia:

  • Fatigue
  • Chronic pain, stiffness, and/or tenderness of muscles, joints, and tendons
  • Restless sleep
  • Anxiety, mood changes
  • Depression
  • Problems with memory, concentration, attention
  • Abdominal pain related to irritable bowel
  • Irritable bladder
  • Headache, migraine
  • Tingling and numbness

6. Food Hypersensitivities (Gluten)

People who have food hypersensitivities or food intolerance have difficulty digesting certain foods. Food hypersensitivity differs from food allergy, which triggers the immune system and a histamine response, while food hypersensitivity does not. However, it can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Bloating
  • Headaches, migraines
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Tiredness
  • Irritable bowel
  • Stomach pain
  • Hives

Foods most often associated with food intolerance include grains that contain gluten (e.g., wheat, rye, barley), dairy products, and items that can cause intestinal gas accumulation such as cabbage and beans. Individuals with a food hypersensitivity usually are not bothered by eating tiny amounts of the offending foods, while those who have a food allergy typically respond immediately to even minute amounts.

7. Insufficient sleep

It’s no surprise that getting insufficient sleep leads to tiredness, but the challenge can be in identifying and/or treating the cause. Possible candidates include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Too much light, including the white/blue light from electronic devices
  • Getting up frequently to urinate (possible urinary tract infection?)
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep apnea, which could be undetected or undiagnosed
  • Snoring partner
  • Uncomfortable sleep environment (i.e., uncomfortable mattress, temperature, pillow, noise)

Any exploration into why you are tired should begin with some reflection on whether the cause (or contribution) is related to factors that are limiting your sleep, such as those listed above. Naturally, feeling tired or fatigued can be caused by more than one situation or circumstance.

Read about sleep deprivation and what to do about it

8. Iron deficiency

Similar to vitamin B12 deficiency, iron deficiency involves the red blood cells. In this case, however, there’s an insufficient amount of iron to produce hemoglobin, which is the part of the red blood cells that allows the cells to carry oxygenated blood throughout the body.

Iron deficiency anemia is estimated to occur in 2 percent of adult men, 9 to 12 percent of non-Hispanic white women, and nearly 20 percent of black and Mexican-American women. It is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world and can be caused by blood loss (often through menstruation), insufficient iron in the diet, poor absorption, and pregnancy. Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include the following:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Frequent infections
  • Inflamed or sore tongue
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Poor appetite
  • Brittle nails
  • Unusual tingling or crawling feeling in your legs

A blood test can detect iron deficiency.

NEXT PAGE >>  Read 8 more reasons why your energy may be low or depleted.

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By Deborah Mitchell| June 21, 2016
Categories:  Care

About the Author

Deborah Mitchell

Deborah Mitchell

Deborah is a freelance health writer who is passionate about animals and the environment. She has authored, co-authored, and written more than 50 books and thousands of articles on a wide range of topics. Currently she lives in Tucson, Arizona. Visit her at deborahmitchellbooks.com.

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