Symptoms Of Exhaustion

Symptoms Of Exhaustion, Causes And Help

The problem of exhaustion is on that is prevalent in modern life. Many experts have attributed an increase in cases of both mental and physical exhaustion to the pressures of modern life, but there are other reasons why we become exhausted. Exhaustion comes about when our body has had enough; we are only built to handle so much, and sometimes we become overloaded. In the following article we will take a look at the symptoms of exhaustion, how it comes about, and how it can affect both adults and children. We will also consider what can be done to counter exhaustion, and how it can be treated. Let’s begin with a look at the symptoms of exhaustion.


Exhaustion can affect us both mentally and physically, and it is important to differentiate between the two. The symptoms of mental exhaustion can be very similar to those from physical exhaustion, but the consequences of leaving it to get worse can be dire. An increase in stress and anxiety, loss of confidence in ability, tiredness and depression can all lead to weakening of the immune system, allowing for illnesses to take hold. Before we go on, let’s list the symptoms of mental exhaustion, followed by those for physical exhaustion.

Mental exhaustion symptoms include the following:

  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Angry feelings
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach pains
  • Chest pains
  • Lack of sleep

These are just a few of the regular symptoms; now let’s look at those for physical exhaustion:

  • Insomnia
  • Fever
  • Chest pains
  • Anxiety
  • Stiffness

As you can see, there is a general cross-over in symptoms for both types of exhaustion, and they can indeed manifest together. The problem is when we refuse to believe that something is wrong, and descend into depression.

What Is Exhaustion?

It is a good question: what is exhaustion? The simple answer is that it is a condition that occurs when things get too much for us. The pressures of work, relationships and emotional problems can become too much for our body and mind to cope with, and we begin to allow our natural defences to drop. For those who have not suffered from exhaustion it can be difficult to understand: it is both a physical and mental illness, and it is becoming ever-more commonplace. Furthermore, it needs urgent attention, and finding the root cause of exhaustion is the key to treating the condition.


As exhaustion can occur in both children and adults it follows that there are different causes for each: after all, children are not subject to an adult’s possibly over-stressed working life, and do not have quite the emotional burden that we sometimes find ourselves laden with. Exhaustion is also often seen as a warning; the symptoms of exhaustion can be indicative of a deep-rooted problem in ones emotional life, or simply a signal that you are taking on too much. There are also medical conditions that can contribute to exhaustion. Let’s begin by looking at adult exhaustion:

Causes of adult exhaustion include the following:

  • Working conditions – many people are asked to work long hours under difficult circumstances; colleagues can be troublesome and the pressure immense. Employers may ask too much of you, and you become anxious at the prospect.
  • Stress – stress is a natural occurrence, but we all have our limits. Managing stress is a major factor in eliminating exhaustion.
  • Allergies – a surprising number of cases of exhaustion come via allergies such as hay fever, which add to the problem by forcing the body to fight harder against them and opening up the immune system as a result. Fatigue comes about quickly in such cases.
  • High blood pressure – this is one of the first things that should be checked as it can signify a deeper problem.

Causes of exhaustion in children include the following:

  • Television – a common diagnosis is that children are exposed to too much – or inappropriate – television which can disrupt sleep patterns. Sleep is essential for children, and lack of it can cause exhaustion.
  • Caffeine – it is everywhere these days, so make sure your children are monitored for their caffeine intake.
  • Heavy exercise in the evening – this can lead to serious exhaustion and further problems.

As you can see the likely causes of exhaustion in adults and children are very different, but the end result is the same.

Diagnosing Exhaustion

Mental exhaustion in adults can come about very suddenly, and if you notice that someone shows personality changes, becomes withdrawn and more anxious, you should look to the other symptoms listed above. Medical attention is necessary as – by nature – many of us are imbued with the ‘keep calm and carry on’ ethic, but in truth, doing nothing about impending exhaustion can lead to exaggerated problems and very serious illness. In children there is a need to make sure they are getting the right amount of sleep, are eating properly and are not being pressured to perform; keep an eye out for the symptoms we have already listed and prepare to act if necessary.

Diagnosing physical exhaustion can be somewhat easier; the patient will likely become listless and lethargic, may be irritable and touchy, and may not be their usual self. It is important that such symptoms are attended to quickly and correctly in order that they do not succumb to depression and further anxiety problems.

Help For Exhaustion

If you are suffering from exhaustion the first thing to do is find out why: addressing the root cause is the first step in treating both mental and physical exhaustion, and it helps to talk to a counsellor or somebody independent from your family to try and get to the root of the problem. Your body may be suffering the effects of a poor diet – a common cause of exhaustion – in which case a dietician can help; lack of exercise may also be a cause, and this can be rectified by devising a sensible exercise routine with a trainer.

You may also want to learn more about stress management, as stress is among the commonest causes of exhaustion in adults. Depression is another cause, and one that is very much aligned with exhaustion, and it needs treating professionally as it can lead to potentially dangerous situations. It may be that you are suffering from an as yet undiagnosed illness; if so, get help straight away for the consequences of not doing so could be traumatic. All in all, exhaustion can be treated by combining lifestyle adjustments and medical diagnosis, and treatment is generally successful. The trick is to manage life thereafter so that it does not re-occur.

We hope that this article has helped you to understand the causes and reasons for exhaustion, and how it differs in adults and children, as well as giving you valuable advice on how to combat exhaustion.

Written By Miranda Stephens

Miranda Stephens, MD is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. Dr. Stephens earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado.She completed a residency in Family Medicine at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. In 2006 Dr. Stephens was chosen for Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.


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