Emotional problems and conflicts, especially depression and anxiety, are by far the most common causes of prolonged fatigue.
Fatigue may represent a defence mechanism that prevents you from having to face the true cause of your depression, such as the fact that you hate your job. It is your body’s safety valve for expressing repressed emotional conflicts, such as feelings trapped in an ungratifying role or an unhappy marriage. When such feelings are not expressed openly, they often come out as physical symptoms, with fatigue as one of the most common manifestations. ‘Many people who are extremely fatigued don’t even know they are depressed’ Dr. Bulette says. ‘They are so busy distracting themselves or just worrying about being tired that they don’t recognise their depression.’
One of these situations is so common it has been given a name’ tired housewife syndrome. The victims are commonly young mothers who day in and day out face the predictable tedium of caring for a home and small children, fixing meals, dealing with repairmen, and generally having no one interesting to talk to and nothing enjoyable to look forward to at the end of their boring and unrewarding day. The tired housewife may be inwardly resentful, envious of her husband’s job, and guilty about her feelings. But rather than face them head-on, she becomes extremely fatigued.
Emotionally induced fatigue may be compounded by sleep disturbance that results from the underlying psychological conflict. A person may develop insomnia or may sleep the requisite number of hours but fitfully, tossing and turning all night, having disturbing dreams, and awakening, as one woman put it, feeling as if she ‘had been run over by a truck.’
Understanding the underlying emotional problem is the crucial first step toward curing psychological fatigue and by itself often results in considerable lessening of the tiredness. Professional psychological help or career or marriage counselling may be needed.
Habit: Good servant but bad master
So long as a habit, even if it is not so good or not generally approved of by the society, remains within control, it may not be very harmful. There are certain habits which, if not carried to excess, may serve as good pastime. They may keep one interested in life and serve as good diversion. They may be welcome relief from hard struggle for survival which is necessary for all of us. Kite-flying, playing different games, keeping pets, playing cards, keeping pigeons, enjoying the company of friends, visiting restaurants or clubs, even smoking moderately, participating in literary meetings, writing poetry, listening to music, etc. are some habits which, if not indulged in excess, make life enjoyable, interesting, happy and worth living. They serve as one’s servants. So long as they remain one’s servants, they do not cause any positive harm. Society may not entirely approve of these habits, but they are generally accepted and tolerated. Society gives some latitude to all of us. Now, it is up to us to keep these habits within limits. These very habits, when they go beyond reasonable limits, become harmful and evil. Then we justly deserve the disapproval of society. A person, slave to one or more habits, is bound to suffer greatly. He loses respect in the eyes of even his own kith and kin. His life becomes miserable and he becomes a pariah in society. A person who has thus made these habits his masters, may realise that these habits are ruining his health, character and reputation and involve great financial loss. At a certain stage, he may like to get rid of his bad habit or habits. But he will soon find, to his dismay, that these habits have become his masters. He will know how helpless he is before an ingrained habit or habits. Deep-rooted habits become second nature. It becomes almost impossible to get rid of them. The end of these servants of habits is generally very tragic.