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Signs and Symptoms

Fatigue is physical and/or mental exhaustion that can be triggered by stress, medication, overwork, or mental and physical illness or disease.Twice as many women as men are diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and it is more common in people over age 40. It may last a month, a couple of years, or many years.

Everyone experiences fatigue occasionally. It is the body's way of signaling its need for rest and sleep. But when fatigue becomes a persistent feeling of tiredness or exhaustion that goes beyond normal sleepiness, it is usually a sign that something more serious is amiss. Normally, fatigue is characterized by

  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of muscle weakness
  • Muscle and joint aches without any swelling
  • Headaches
  • Sleep that does not feel refreshing
  • Slowed movements or central nervous system reactions

Fatigue can also trigger serious mental exhaustion. Persistent fatigue can cause a lack of mental clarity (or feeling of mental "fuzziness"), difficulty concentrating, and in some cases, memory loss.

What Causes It?

The exactly cause of CFS is unknown, but there are several possible causes include:

  • Viral infection or certain vacteria can trigger CFS
  • Problems with the immune system
  • A hormone imbalance
  • Psychiatric problems – stress, depression and emotional trauma
  • Traumatic events – some cases have been linked to events such as surgery or a serious accident
  • Slowed
Case Studies

Case 1: Susan, 56, runs a decorating supplies shop, and has been visiting us for over four years. She first tried acupuncture because the conventional medical approach to her condition of arthritis was disappointing. 'I was in a great deal of pain and had very little movement in my hands until I started to have acupuncture, which keeps me mobile and pain free' says Susan. She now also visits for help with stress since, last year, she was diagnosed with a tumour in the bowel and had to face major surgery.

'Acupuncture has definitely assisted me through this whole stressful experience,' says Susan. 'It helps me relax and also gives me a boost of energy. I am still running my busy shop and walking my dogs every day.'

Case 2: Jennifer, 50, came to visit us when she realised she had become an alcoholic. 'My drinking was completely out of control,' Wilma recalls. 'I drank because I was under a great deal of stress and I didn't know how to give it up.'

Living in the center of Silicon Valley, Jennifer was also keen not to publicte her problem by going to a local Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. 'I wanted to deal with the problem privately so I went to an acupuncturist with experience of drink and drug addictions. Even after just one session I felt a weight lift off me and I stopped drinking completely after a few weeks,' she says. 'Stress and drinking were interfering with my life far too much. I now feel fine, stress-free, and I never crave a drink at all.'

Drug Therapies

The body has an inbuilt physical response to stressful situations. Faced with pressure, challenge or danger, we need to react quickly, and our bodies release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline to help us do this. These hormones are part of the "fight or flight" response and affect the metabolic rate, heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in a heightened - or stressed - state that prepares the body for optimum performance in dealing with a stressful situation. Many things (or the anticipation of them) can lead to stress:

Sometimes, there is no particular reason for developing stress, or it arises out of a series of minor irritations.

Emotional Symptoms:

  • Pressure to perform at work, at school or in sports
  • Threats of physical violence
  • Money worries
  • Arguments
  • Family conflicts
  • Divorce
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Bereavement
  • Unemployment
  • Alcohol or drug abuse