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Sudden Fatigue Episodes: Important Things to Know

Everybody knows the tired, sluggish sort of fatigue that occurs after a sleepless night, or the exhaustion felt after a long workout. But sometimes, women experience a different sort of tiredness - a sudden drop in energy that can affect their ability to work and think. These are episodes of sudden fatigue and tiredness, and they can be difficult to deal with.

How Can Sudden Fatigue be Managed?

What Is Sudden Fatigue?

Unlike the better-known chronic fatigue syndrome, sudden episodes of fatigue come on very quickly and usually last anywhere from a few minutes up to a few hours. These episodes are characterized by deep, heavy tiredness, or weakness and reduced energy. Episodes of sudden fatigue and weakness are often different than sleepiness - somebody experiencing fatigue does not necessarily feel the need to sleep, but has little energy to perform tasks and activities.

Symptoms of sudden fatigue can be both physical - a sensation of heaviness and tiredness in the body - and psychological - difficulty focusing or concentrating and feeling less awake. 

What Causes Sudden Fatigue?

There is a variety of different underlying causes of sudden extreme fatigue episodes. Some are more serious than others, and it can be difficult for somebody to diagnose themselves. It is advised to visit a doctor to understand which causes may be affecting you.

  • Hormonal imbalance. The most common cause of sudden fatigue episodes that begin to occur around menopause is the changes that happen in hormonal levels. Crashing fatigue occurs because of a change in estrogen, a hormone that helps to control the body's waking and sleeping patterns.

  • Thyroid disorders. The thyroid produces hormones that regulate the body's growth and metabolism, which can affect energy levels when something is different than normal. 

  • Psychological strain.  Apart from hormonal imbalances, psychological strain is the most common reason for sudden fatigue. Anything that severely affects the brain can have a massive impact on physical well-being. Stress is a common cause of physical manifestations of psychological problems. Additionally, grief can cause a number of physical symptoms like sudden fatigue.

  • Mental illness. Anxiety and depression in particular are mental illnesses that are often characterized by tiredness and fatigue, and both can cause a sudden drop in energy levels. Other mental illnesses may cause the same symptoms as well.

  • Heart disease. A number of different heart problems and difficulties can bring on a sudden feeling of tiredness. Any sort of irregular heartbeat is likely to increase fatigue, and some more serious problems that affect the heart's efficiency can cause fatigue as well.

How Can Sudden Fatigue Be Managed?

The best way to manage sudden fatigue is by treating the underlying cause of the problem. However, since additional factors can make sudden fatigue more likely to happen or more debilitating when it does occur, there are a few lifestyle changes that can help to increase energy overall and manage sudden fatigue.

  • Eat healthy snacks throughout the day. Peanuts and fruits are the best option for healthy snacks during the day. 

  • Get a full night's sleep. Sleep between seven and eight hours each night to get up filled with energy.

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise at least three times a week, start with low impact exercises like walking.

  • Reduce stress. Stressful situations may have a negative impact on your day-to-day life, so reduce stress by practicing yoga or meditation.

To learn more about how to manage fatigue and energy loss, read about fatigue treatments that may be able to help. 

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  • Fatigue. (2016). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved May 12, 2017 from
  • National Institutes of Health. (2015). Fatigue. Retrieved May 12, 2017, from
  • National Institutes of Health. (2014). Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Retrieved May 12, 2017 from