The short is answer is yes, anxiety can definitely make you feel tired. Anxiety exhaustion is a real thing, and is backed by plenty of evidence. It is a common symptom of anxiety.
In this post we will look at why anxiety can make you feel tired and what you can do to reduce your anxiety to a point where it no longer makes you feel so tired from it.
Why Does Anxiety Make You Tired?
Anxiety is based around fear. Fear of a threat, or fear of a situation that you fear may eventuate. The mind can do some crazy things to us, and when it goes into overtime worrying and fearing things that have yet to happen it can result in heightened anxiety or a full panic attack.
When you perceive a threat, the sympathetic nervous system takes over. This prepares your body for a fight or flight response and releases a large influx of hormones to help you fight the threat. Your body is working hard to do all of this and it can be an exhausting process. This is both for when you have a high level of anxiety throughout the day, and even more so for when your high anxiety turns into a panic attack.
Some of the symptoms you may experience are:
Racing heart rate
When the threat has passed or the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in after a panic attack, it is extremely common to feel a kind of post anxiety crash. Your body has just been through quite a lot, and it is only natural that it is now tired and exhausted afterwards. This exhaustion often lasts for the rest of the day and is recovered after a good nights sleep. Sometimes we will take medication to ease the anxiety, such as Valium, and these medications can cause us to feel drowsy. Brain fog and an inability to think clearly due to the tiredness and exhaustion of anxiety is quite a common thing.
What Else Can Contribute To Anxiety Exhaustion?
Muscle tension is common with anxiety. We are in a fight or flight mode, and whether you realize it or you want it to happen, the muscles will tense up and be ready for that fight or flight response. Even when you are just in a heightened state of anxiety generally, you will carry a lot more tension in your muscles. This tension directly leads to tiredness.
Napping during the day can contribute to anxiety tiredness. As we talked about earlier, going through anxiety is an exhausting process, and you may feel so tired that you need to take a nap during the day. Although this nap may help you to overcome that tiredness and feel a little more refreshed and ready to continue your day, it also makes it harder to sleep at night. Not getting a good nights sleep will only leave you feeling more tired the next day. On top of that, when you lay awake at night you often have anxious thoughts ruminating through your mind, which only leads to more anxiety.
I went through a phase where I was napping 3 times per day and then sleeping for 12 hours each night. I was just that exhausted from my anxiety and depression. Some of it was also medication induced tiredness as I had a heavy reliance on Valium, and sometimes it was just a means for me to escape. Getting out of the habit of sleeping during the day was a very hard habit to break and took several weeks to achieve. I was very tired while trying to adjust which resulted in me feeling worse mentally, but once I made the adjustment and focused on 8 hours of sleep each night my anxiety and depression seemed to improve a little bit.
Coping mechanism. Sometimes you go through so much stress and anxiety that your body and mind simply can’t take much more of it. In order to combat that, your body kind of shuts down and tiredness takes over. This is to stop your anxiety from getting any worse and is a way to avoid what your body is going through. This also leads to naps during the day, which as mentioned above can make it difficult to sleep at night, leading to more anxiety.
Depression. Anxiety and depression go hand in hand and anxiety often leads to depression. Take it from me, depression is absolutely exhausting. This is a combination of what your body is going through, but also depression causes a severe lack of energy. It makes it very difficult to function properly and think clearly, and sometimes the exhaustion from depression only makes you feel more anxious, worrying about if you will ever get back to normal again.
Medication. Often when anxiety is high or a panic attack is imminent, we turn to medication to help calm us and get us through. Often these drugs cause tiredness and drowsiness, so although they help with the anxiety, they don’t help at all with the tiredness. There is nothing wrong with using medication for this, but the danger is that sometimes we become too reliant on the medication and tend to focus less on the non-medication type of strategies that we should be using.
The most common medication to treat anxiety is Valium. This is the drug that I used to take for my anxiety. After a while it had less effect on me and I was finding that I was needing more of it to experience the same level of relief. In a way, it became like a low-level form of addiction. Fortunately for me, it is extremely rare that I use Valium or any other drug any more. Read to the end of this post to find out what I used to treat my anxiety and stop using Valium to treat it.
How To Treat Anxiety Exhaustion
Sleep patterns. As discussed above, anxiety can lead to a lot of sleep problems. Focus on getting 8 hours of sleep each night and try to keep the naps to a minimum, or not at all. It is often said that you should go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to improve your sleep hygiene. I don’t fully agree with this when it comes to anxiety, because often this means you will be going to bed when you are not tired. While you are laying there awake, all of the anxious thoughts start ruminating through your head and you don’t get a good nights sleep. Then you spend the next day taking naps to try to adjust.
The best advice I got when it came to sleep, and this is how I broke my pattern of 3 naps per day and 12 hours of sleep per night is to focus on just two things. The first is to make sure you wake up at the same time each morning. You will often be tired by doing this, especially early on as you start to make the adjustment. By doing this, you will hopefully leave yourself feeling tired earlier in the evening and will have less trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. While you are adjusting to this pattern, don’t focus on what time you are going to sleep, just focus on getting up at the same time each morning.
The second thing to focus on is not taking a nap during the day, no matter how tired you are. You want to be tired by the time night rolls around, and if you have been napping during the day you may not feel that tiredness.
Exercising daily can definitely help with sleep. It is also a great way to reduce anxiety and stress and also improve your mood. I understand that sometimes it can be extremely difficult to find the motivation to exercise, especially when you are tired, anxious or depressed. In a previous post I wrote about 7 benefits of exercise for anxiety and depression, and also some tips for how to find the motivation to exercise when you are depressed.
Mindful meditation can also help to reduce the tiredness you feel from anxiety. Sometimes these relaxation techniques will leave you feeling a little sleepy as you become more relaxed, but often they will help to refresh you and have you alert and focused on the present. Practicing mindful meditation regularly can help to lower your anxiety and stress levels, and if your anxiety is lower then your tiredness from anxiety will naturally be lower as well.
Eating the right foods will also help. This works in two ways. The first is that eating the right foods will give you the energy to overcome the tiredness you may be feeling. The second is that if you are eating these foods regularly, then they can help to reduce the amount of stress and anxiety that you feel. This obviously means less tiredness because there is less anxiety.
How I Reduced My Anxiety Levels Dramatically
This is going to be a shameless plug for a product, but it is a product that I have used personally and worked extremely well to treat my anxiety and panic attacks. I don’t recommend anything that I haven’t paid for with my own money and actually put into practice.
The product is called Panic Away and is focused on eliminating panic attacks and general anxiety. It didn’t eliminate my general anxiety completely, but it did reduce it significantly to a point where it rarely bothers me. This has lead to less tiredness and less exhaustion from anxiety. It is a very easy course to implement, and results are achieved naturally without any medication. It comes with a 60 day money back guarantee, so it is worth trying out risk free. It was definitely the answer for my anxiety related problems and hopefully you find the level of success that I did.
Please note – the product links on this page are affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission if you make a purchase through that link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps me to keep the website running.