Tiredness (Fatigue) - Treatments

Authored by Dr Mary Harding, 03 May 2017

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The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Dr Helen Huins, 03 May 2017

There is no specific treatment for tiredness. The days of doctors prescribing a "tonic" are over, as there is nothing which really works. The secret is to try to narrow down the cause and then do something about that.

If the cause is a medical condition then often treatment of the condition will resolve the tiredness. For example, if you have anaemia then iron supplements can treat this and the tiredness resolves as your blood count improves. It is thought that even supplementing low-range-of-normal iron levels helps with tiredness. If you are found to have an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) then a pill which replaces the thyroid hormone you are missing is usually very effective and you will find you have more energy.

If the cause is a side-effect of medication, it may be that this can be changed to something which suits you better.

If you are found to have chronic fatigue syndrome, you may be referred to a specialist in this illness for help through psychological therapy, graded exercise therapy, or medication.

If you have anxiety or depression, this can be helped by talking therapy (counselling), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), medication or various other possible treatments.

It may seem bizarre, but physical exercise can actually be remarkably effective for treating tiredness. Any moderate exercise, such as walking, swimming or cycling, can help you feel less tired. Regular exercise is also an excellent way to stay healthy.

If you're not sleeping well at night, it's tempting to try to "make up for this" by taking naps during the day when you can. This really won't help - in fact, it can put your body clock out of synch, so you may end up sleeping less well at night. There are lots of ways you can try to improve your sleep if you have insomnia and this in turn may improve your tiredness.

If you are stressed, it is worth taking the time to sit down and think and talk about it. Is there something which you could change, as this is affecting your health? It may be that you need to re-prioritise things in your life. If work is the stressful problem, could you talk to your manager, change roles, change jobs, cut down your hours? If there isn't anything you can do to change your situation then try to find things which might balance out the stress. People are different, so this would be different for everyone, but may involve a variety of ways to de-stress, such as:

  • Regular "me" time.
  • Scheduling some fun events.
  • Booking a holiday.
  • An aromatherapy massage.
  • Regular exercise. Ideally something fun rather than something you find a chore. (Ballroom dancing lessons, a weekly walk with a friend, etc.)

Also, avoid bottling up your worries. Try to share them with a friend, or a family member, or consider seeing a counsellor.

There is no single answer for treatment of tiredness. However, even if no cause is found, in most people, it settles on its own with time.

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