X This site uses cookies. Read more.

5 symptoms of exhaustion: How to know if your tiredness is a sign of something more

CL Clarissa Lenherr


Feeling tired all the time and more depleted than ever? While there is no exact diagnosis for exhaustion, there are certain characteristics that set it apart from the ready-for-bed sleepiness with which we’re familiar. For example, you might find yourself hitting the snooze button more than usual, living with brain fog, or just feeling completely wiped out. 

Although normal exhaustion may be the underlying cause or trigger for many of your hazy symptoms, you should visit a GP or specialist in order to rule out any nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances or inflammatory problems in your body if symptoms persist.  

Unexpected changes in mood

If you’ve noticed your mood swinging a little more than usual and you’re having feelings of detachment, anxiety or even depression, then you could be suffering from exhaustion. When we are extremely tired, we have less energy to respond to stressors, which can lead to heightened emotional responses. If you have noticed these feelings lasting for more than a month, I recommend reaching out to your GP.

Sleep struggles

A good night’s rest should leave you feeling refreshed and energised but unfortunately, constant tiredness is normal in the fast-paced world we live in. If you are getting the recommended dose of seven to nine hours sleep a night and you still feel sluggish and out of sorts – then perhaps something else is going on. Similarly, if you’re not getting enough shut-eye because you find it difficult to fall asleep, or if you constantly wake yourself up in the middle of the night, then this can contribute to your feelings of exhaustion. Everyone deserves a good night’s sleep, but poor sleep is a common problem. 

If you find it hard to nod off, I would advise introducing some sleep hygiene practices in order to optimise your nights, such as avoiding caffeine too late in the day, reducing electronic use at night-time and downloading blue light blocking filters, as well as incorporating stress management into your bedtime routine.

Changes in your hair and skin

If your exhaustion is stress-related, over time it fatigues your adrenal glands, which produce many of our sex hormones. This change in sex hormones, specifically DHEA and Testosterone, can then affect hair growth. That’s why it’s important to note the condition of your hair and skin because any changes in either could be a tell-tale sign that your body is living with long term exhaustion. Key changes to look out for are thinning hair and drier, sullen or breakout-prone skin.

Unwanted changes in weight

A bad night’s sleep can affect our weight, and when our bodies and minds are exhausted, we may find that our appetite changes as well. For some, cravings for energy-rich foods increase as a response to a lack of energy. These energy rich foods tend to be fast acting carbohydrates, sugar and caffeine, and long-term consumption of these foods can lead to weight gain. Conversely, if you are constantly tired then you may find that your appetite decreases, which can lead to unwanted weight loss. 

I recommend ruling out conditions such as an underactive thyroid, which can lead to weight gain, fatigue, lowered mood and brain fog. Check your thyroid markers such as TSH and T4 and rule out nutritional deficiencies that might be affecting your hunger and satiety. 

Feeling foggy

When your brain is exhausted, it becomes harder to think, reason and focus. Brain fog goes beyond the occasional tip-of-the-tongue feeling and is often a collection of symptoms including loss of clarity, memory changes, poor focus and concentration. I would suggest seeing your GP if this lasts for more than a couple of weeks as brain fog can be the result of an underactive thyroid, hormonal imbalances, gut health conditions and nutritional deficiencies. 

More info

The views expressed on these pages are the views of the cited experts only and do not necessarily represent the views of Wellness Edit. Please always get a second opinion where specific medical advice is required.

All Content © Copyright Wellness Edit 2020. All rights reserved

5 symptoms of exhaustion: How to know if your tiredness is a sign of something more

CL Clarissa Lenherr

The Article Edit

Related Articles

How I found serenity in the spare room

What does a fashion model do when she can’t get to India to train in yoga? She heads for the spare room to log on, tune in and summon her Zen…

FP Felicity Peel

Monique Brown: Shines a light on injustice

Meet a company director who’s worked on Bond films and now advocates for mental health and against racial injustice. Plus, she creates clean-burning candles you’ll love to light.

WE W Editor

Meet the Mind Medic: How to refresh your relationship with social

If social media is leaving you depleted, refresh your relationship. Tell your phone: It’s time to have that talk.

SV Dr Sarah Vohra

In a stress spiral? An expert reveals how to strengthen your immune system

From oral care to healthy beans on toast, here are expert tips to strengthen your immune system.

JM Dr Jenna Macciochi

No need to get up: Maximise that laidback feeling

One benefit of wanting to take it easy is that you can try out a new tension-relieving technique at the same time. Horizontal healing…

AB Amelia Bell

Feeling groggy? Here’s what a doctor orders…

The third Monday in January is Blue Monday and, if you haven’t slept well, that downer day is going to feel worse. Here, a GP shares 7 ways to deal…

AB Amelia Bell

Load More