During my first year of grad school, I struggled with chronic fatigue. No matter how much I thought I slept at night, I never felt rested in the morning. I was only twenty-three, at a good weight and I ate healthy, surely there was something seriously wrong with me. When I googled “chronic fatigue”, I found many causes for it, as well as remedies, but almost all articles recommended seeing a physician. I decided to call my clinic and make an appointment.
When I checked in, I was handed an iPad and asked to take a short assessment while waiting for my appointment. It took all of 3 minutes to complete the assessment and I returned the tablet to the receptionist. When the doctor entered the exam room, he informed me that the results of the assessment indicated moderate anxiety. He explained that anxiety can cause fatigue because of the tension your body carried and the disruption to sleep patterns. The good news was that anxiety was very treatable and he prescribed a med for anxiety and referred me to a therapist who specialized in cognitive behavioral therapy. He also ordered blood work to rule out anything else.
After a few weeks of meds and some really cool therapy, I was sleeping better, staying awake during lectures and enjoying life again. I never would have guessed that my fatigue was due to anxiety, but now it makes perfect sense given all the changes in my life. I’m sure glad that my physician screens for mental health conditions because otherwise he would have missed the boat on this one.
(This is a dramatization of a true story)
read more about the Mental Health Crisis for Grad Students…