It’s normal to be tired after mental or physical exertion, but not being able to meet your usual activity amount—for example, only being able to run two miles at a time when you used to run five miles—is a sign of fatigue. Fatigue means that you can’t reset yourself by taking a break from exertion, such as by getting off the computer and taking a long walk, and that minimal activity leaves you feeling exhausted.

There are two types of fatigue: local and general. Local occurs in certain areas of the body such as the limbs or chest and often results from an individual using a specific body part excessively (for example, hands for a hair stylist). General fatigue is on a larger, constitutional level, from stress, poor sleep, or poor diet.

Work with your health care provider to assess the pattern of fatigue from a variety of perspectives; then build a Multifaceted treatment plan, which may include herbal formulas, lifestyle stress-management tips, and acupuncture. If stress is the cause, prescription drugs, vitamins, or herbs alone will not truly heal your condition. Instead, find a mental therapy that you’re comfortable with, such as qigong, psychiatric therapy, counseling, or meditation. Diet is especially important. To maintain energy levels, eat nutrient-dense foods like berries and foods such as salmon and walnuts that are rich in essential fatty acids.

–Kamau Kokayi, MD, Integrative Medical Physician, Patients Medical, New York