What Makes It Worse
Certain lifestyle factors and other medical conditions can make your fibro fatigue even more intolerable. One of the biggest culprits behind fatigue is the most obvious one: poor sleep. A bad night's sleep can make anyone tired the next day. But in people with FMS, sleeplessness can be a chronic problem. If you do sleep, the rest you get may be of such poor quality that you don't awaken refreshed.
If you're suffering from severe fatigue, be on the lookout for depression. Constant fatigue can create feelings of frustration, sadness, and despair, making you vulnerable to depression. Major depression is a serious mental illness that warrants medical attention. It is characterized by persistent feelings of emptiness and lack of pleasure. If you suspect you have depression, consult your doctor immediately.
People who develop depression are also likely to have greater fatigue. Remember, having fibromyalgia already puts you at greater risk for depression. Once you're depressed, you may find you have even less energy.
In some people, the stress of having fibromyalgia can make the fatigue even worse. Juggling job, kids, and other responsibilities while battling fibromyalgia can put you on a collision course with stress. Over time, feeling constantly overwhelmed can exhaust even the heartiest souls. And the stress of having a challenging health problem will only make matters worse.
The foods you eat can affect your energy levels, too. When you eat a meal that is too high in carbohydrates, for instance, you may develop reactive hypoglycemia, a type of low blood sugar that occurs two to three hours after the high-carb meal. As a result, your body may secrete too much insulin, causing blood sugar to drop and signaling your body to release too much adrenaline. The result may be tremors, rapid heart rate, and sweating as well as mental confusion that can all compound your fatigue.
Many people use energy drinks for a quick pick-me-up. But most of these drinks are chock full of caffeine, sugar, or other substances that can leave you wired and awake later on, when you're ready for sleep. They can also be dehydrating. Mixing them with alcohol is potentially dangerous and can cause cardiovascular problems.
Over time, reactive hypoglycemia may result in insulin resistance. When that occurs, the body stops effectively using the insulin it produces. Since insulin is needed for sugar to get into your cells, this causes mild cell starvation, which also results in fatigue. The condition greatly raises your risk for diabetes.
Drugs can cause fatigue, too. Benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressants, for instance, can cause drowsiness and impaired memory. So can muscle relaxants, pain pills, and some antihypertensives. If you are taking medications that worsen your fatigue, talk to your doctor. She may be able to alter the dosage. You may also have to change the time of day you take the medication — from morning to night, for example — so that the fatigue is less disruptive.