What Causes Emotional Fatigue?

Fatigue is a feeling of extreme weakness or tiredness. Fatigue can be physical or emotional. Emotional fatigue is more noticeable in the morning and less draining during the day than physical fatigue. Emotional fatigue is caused by the constant feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. It can lead to severe mental fatigue or exhaustion, which slows down thoughts and makes thinking difficult.

Physical Symptoms

Emotional fatigue is suffered by people who are unable to express or sort out their feelings, or to cope with stress, fear, anxiety, grief or depression. Symptoms of chronic, or long-term, emotional fatigue include an intense, painful and nagging loss of control in your life that affects both your brain and body. Emotional fatigue causes the body to accumulate lactic acid, a chemical that overworked muscles produce that cause cramps when you exercise too much. Lactic acid collects throughout the body and causes anxious or depressed people to experience intense pain in their legs, back, neck and arms.


Depression is the feeling of intense sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness and anxiety that lasts for long periods of time, such as weeks instead of days. People who are depressed can experience recurring thoughts of death and suicide. Depressed people experience a loss of energy. They lose interest in things that they once enjoyed doing and they may experience an increase or decrease in appetite and sleep. Having these types of feelings over a long period of time can cause emotional fatigue.


Anxiety can seriously disrupt a person's life. Anxiety presents itself as constant and excessive worry about everyday things that should not normally induce such worrying thoughts. Anxiety can be an excessive fear or phobia, jumpiness, an inability to cope with relationship problems or changes in lifestyle. Living every day with such intense worry and doubt affects daily functioning and causes emotional fatigue. Anxiety also causes physical symptoms such as tense muscles, sweating, nausea, stomach discomfort or diarrhoea, cold clammy hands and a difficulty swallowing.

Emotional Stress

Overextending yourself to meet deadlines or constantly piling up your schedule so that you never have a chance to relax and sit down can cause you to feel stressed. Trying to hide your emotions from others and being unable to express them can lead to emotional stress. Emotional stress from problems in the workplace, personal relationships and from major life changes such as a move to a new city or the loss of a loved one can cause emotional fatigue.

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About the Author

Alexis Rohlin is a professional writer for various websites. She has produced works for Red Anvil Publishing and was one of the top 10 finalists in the 2007 Midnight Hour Short Story Contest for Rohlin holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English from Madonna University.