PTSD and Fatigue

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is more than a diagnosis. It affects how you feel, think and act every day. It can leave you or a loved one feeling exhausted both emotionally and physically. But it can also be an opportunity for moving forward and finding energy in life.
 

Where Does PTSD Come From?

PTSD can develop in response to painful experiences such as the following:

  • Combat exposure
  • Surviving a natural disaster
  • Enduring personal loss
  • Physical/sexual abuse
  • Other mental health issues
  • Substance use disorder and addiction
  • Witnessing or learning of the injury or death of others

No matter the cause, PTSD interrupts your mental and physical health and affects your life in a variety of ways.

 

What Does PTSD Look Like?

When you have PTSD, you experience PTSD symptoms.

These symptoms may include some or all of the following:

  • Hypervigilance
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hypersomnia
  • Insomnia

These symptoms and more can contribute to fatigue. You may be tired from being awake, aware and on edge at all times. You may feel tired because you sleep too much and are depressed.

Additionally, World Psychiatry explains that the same part of the brain is involved in some PTSD, chronic pain and chronic fatigue issues.1 This means fatigue can be a primary symptom of PTSD, and that PTSD often co-occurs with physical pain and other health issues.

Substance use and addiction are also potential side effects of PTSD. These issues can complicate mental health and energy levels. Taking uppers to counteract fatigue just leaves you more exhausted later. Taking downers to try to feel more relaxed or sleep better actually leaves you with more worry and anxiety. Taking any drug to simply mask how you feel creates more problems without addressing the underlying PTSD.

The effects of emotional trauma can be difficult to deal with. terrifying memories, nightmares and flashbacks can be a common first cause of a traumatic experience. Post traumatic stress disorders can also cause the use, or even abuse, of alcohol and drugs to make one feel better. Disconnecting with others is one of the biggest, and most unfortunate, causes.
 

How Does Fatigue Affect Me?

When you’re tired, you aren’t at your best. Fatigue stems from but also exacerbates other PTSD symptoms. It stems from and contributes to substance use. It challenges your health and wellbeing and creates issues such as the following:

    Depressed woman at computer
  • Low productivity. Fatigue can impact your work performance as much as being drunk can.2 People with PTSD and resulting fatigue have impaired judgement, reduced motivation and increased risk for injury.
  • Depression. Constant fatigue coupled with other PTSD symptoms makes it hard to do the things that bring you joy. You may lose interest in hobbies or not have the energy to socialize with others. As fatigue limits your daily activities, your mental health suffers.
  • Poor physical health Fatigue often feels like the flu. It also puts you at more risk for sickness and pain.

Fatigue impacts your quality of life, but it doesn’t have to. Treatment helps you manage PTSD symptoms. You can get the rest you need to live your best life.
 

How Do You Treat Fatigue and PTSD?

PTSD treatment looks different for everyone. Your treatment plan will be customized to meet your unique mental and physical health needs. It may combine traditional psychotherapy with more innovative techniques such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and exposure therapy. Treatment can include physical healthcare, addiction recovery and stress management.

Reach out to The Oaks at (877) 345-1887 to learn more about finding professional help and getting the best integrated treatment for your personal wellbeing.


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By Alanna Hilbink, Contributing Writer


Sources

1 McFarlane, Alexander. “The Long-Term Costs of Traumatic Stress: Intertwined Physical and Psychological Consequences.” World Psychiatry. Feb. 2010.

2 Fatigue.” Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. 1 Aug. 2017.

Articles posted here are primarily educational and may not directly reflect the offerings at The Oaks. For more specific information on programs at The Oaks, contact us today.