Fatigue is one of the most poorly diagnosed and treated medical conditions. People become more irritable and depressed the longer fatigue lasts. To figure out if you’re fatigued and not just drowsy, look at your sleep patterns. If you constantly feel tired but don’t get relief from sleep, you’re probably fatigued. Mental fatigue, caused by such things as stress or working on a computer for a long time, can lead to physical fatigue, a feeling that makes you want to lie down. Physical fatigue also can be directly caused by activities such as exercise.

Low thyroid-hormone levels is one of the most underdiagnosed causes of fatigue. Signs of low thyroid include depression, fatigue, weight gain, cold hands or feet, brittle hair or nails, and dry skin. Any extra stress on the body, from physiological and emotional stress to chronic illness, will significantly reduce thyroid levels. It is important to get your hormone levels tested to figure out if this is the problem. Adrenal glands secreting low levels of hormones is another cause of fatigue, often accompanied by anxiety and a low stress tolerance.

Receiving adequate amounts of nutrients is important but difficult considering how depleted many foods are of vitamins and nutrients. A good energizing supplement that targets the mitochondria, the energy makers of the body, can be beneficial. Mitochondrial boosters include D-ribose, magnesium, malic acid, and all the B vitamins. To get higher doses of daily vitamins, you can use powders rather than bottles of pills. One scoop can equal 30 to 40 capsules.

–Kent Holtorf, MD, Holtorf Medical Group, Los Angeles