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Physical fatigue

Topics: Couples, Family, Mental Health

Physical fatigue is when a person is in a constant state of tiredness or weakness. They may be unable to perform day-to-day physical tasks. Physical fatigue can progress into physical exhaustion, which is the body’s sensation of extreme and persistent tiredness. When in a state of exhaustion, a person feels completely drained.

What can cause physical fatigue?

There are many things that can contribute to physical fatigue. Below are some common causes.

  • Workplace stress
    • Extended periods of mental or physical work
  • Emotional concerns
    • Mental health problems including depression and grief
    • Prolonged anxiety
  • Sleep deprivation / insufficient sleep
    • Shiftwork and overtime
    • Lifestyle and changes in routine
    • Illness and injury

Physical fatigue can be accompanied by irritability and a lack of motivation. Research shows that the loss of just one night’s sleep has a significant impact on both physical and mental functioning.1

Consequences of physical fatigue

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References for this page (click to expand)

1American Psychological Association. (2022). APA Dictionary of Psychology. American Psychological Association. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from https://dictionary.apa.org/. 

2Angehrn, A., Teale Sapach, M. J. N., Ricciardelli, R., Macphee, R. S., Anderson, G. S., & Nicholas Carleton, R. (2020). Sleep quality and mental disorder symptoms among Canadian public safety personnel. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(8), 2708. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082708 

3Watkins, S. L., Shannon, M. A., Hurtado, D. A., Shea, S. A., & Bowles, N. P. (2021). Interactions between home, work, and sleep among firefighters. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 64(2), 137-148. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajim.23194 

Duxbury, L., Lyons, S., & Higgins, C. (2008). Too much to do, and not enough time: An examination of role overload. In Handbook of Work-Family Integration (pp. 125-140). Academic Press. 

Miller, L. (2007). Police Families: Stresses, Syndromes, and Solutions. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 35(1), 21-40. https://doi.org/10.1080/01926180600698541  

Roth, S. G., & Moore, C. D. (2009). Work-family fit: The impact of emergency medical services work on the family system. Prehospital Emergency Care, 13(4), 462-468. https://doi.org/10.1080/10903120903144791  

Vogel, Braungardt, T., Meyer, W., & Schneider, W. (2012). The effects of shift work on physical and mental health. Journal of Neural Transmission, 119(10), 1121–1132. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00702-012-0800-4  

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