Does Anxiety Make You Tired?

Atlantic Net

August 25, 2023 - 10:29 AM

In our world today, rates of anxiety are at an all time high and it has become a common companion for many. Yet, have you ever wondered why those anxious thoughts and emotions can leave you feeling drained? The connection between anxiety and tiredness runs deeper than you might think. Let’s dive into how anxiety, and its blend of physical and mental experiences, can lead to overwhelming feelings of exhaustion. First, let’s dive into three physical symptoms and how they contribute to tiredness.

Picture of a woman's back from behind, with red spots signifying muscle tension

Muscle Tension and Restlessness

Muscle tension and restlessness triggered by anxiety create a cycle of fatigue and tiredness. When anxiety sets in, your body tenses up as if bracing for danger, leading to muscles remaining perpetually contracted. This prolonged tension consumes energy, leaving you physically exhausted. Simultaneously, the restlessness that accompanies anxiety can keep your body on high alert, as if it’s stuck in a constant state of readiness. Over time, this combination of muscle strain and restless energy can drain your body’s resources, contributing to a sense of fatigue that affects your overall well-being.

EKG line showing how fast a person's heart rate is

Racing Heartbeat and Shallow Breaths

The racing heartbeat and shallow breaths triggered by anxiety create a demanding physiological response that can contribute to fatigue and tiredness. When anxiety strikes, your body initiates the “fight or flight” mechanism, causing your heart to race in preparation for action. This heightened cardiovascular activity requires additional energy, leaving you feeling physically drained. Also, shallow breathing limits the amount of oxygen reaching your body’s cells, affecting your energy levels. The combination of increased heart rate and inadequate oxygen supply can lead to a sense of exhaustion, furthering the connection between anxiety-induced physiological responses and the following fatigue.

Woman yawning from the restlessness caused by anxiety

Disrupted Sleep Patterns

Disrupted sleep patterns that are often caused by anxiety can create a vicious cycle that significantly contributes to tiredness. As anxiety takes hold, intrusive thoughts and worries can prevent you from falling asleep or wake you up during the night, resulting in fragmented sleep. The constant mental activity during these wakeful moments further fuels anxiety, perpetuating the cycle. Even if you manage to fall asleep, the restless nature of your slumber means you don’t attain the deep, restorative sleep needed to recharge. This lack of quality sleep leaves you physically and mentally drained, underscoring the impact of anxiety on your energy levels.

Now, lets dig into three mental experiences of anxiety that can lead to physical tiredness.

Woman laying in bed tired, unable to sleep due to overthinking from anxiety

Relentless Worry and Overthinking

The ceaseless worry and overthinking triggered by anxiety can contribute to physical fatigue as well. Anxious thoughts act like a relentless mental treadmill, requiring continuous cognitive effort. This ongoing mental activity consumes substantial energy reserves, leaving you feeling drained. The constant state of alertness associated with anxiety keeps your body in a heightened stress mode, which diverts resources away from normal bodily functions, further contributing to fatigue. As the cycle continues, the mental strain of worry and overthinking intertwines with the body’s physical response, ultimately leading to a deep sense of tiredness in both the mind and body.

Same woman pictured four times, experiencing various different emotions and levels of anxiety

Intense Emotional Rollercoaster

Experiencing the intense emotions caused by anxiety can significantly contribute to physical fatigue and tiredness. Anxiety often brings feelings of fear, apprehension, and nervousness that can be emotionally taxing. These emotions activate the body’s stress response, releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. While these hormones are meant to prepare you for action, prolonged exposure can lead to a feeling of exhaustion. The emotional rollercoaster of anxiety can lead to emotional fatigue, which in turn impacts your physical energy levels.

Man concentrated on looking at his laptop screen

Difficulty Concentrating

The difficulty concentrating caused by anxiety can significantly contribute to physical fatigue and tiredness. Anxiety often fills your mind with a torrent of thoughts, making it challenging to focus on tasks at hand. This mental scatter requires heightened cognitive effort, draining your mental reserves. As you struggle to corral your attention, the energy expended in trying to concentrate adds to your overall sense of tiredness. The constant mental gymnastics required to stay on track can lead to mental exhaustion, impacting your ability to function optimally and contributing to a pervasive feeling of physical fatigue.


It’s clear that anxiety is not just a “mind thing.” It’s a full-body experience that can drain your mental and physical reserves, leaving you feeling tired and depleted. The good news is that help is available. Just as you wouldn’t hesitate to seek medical care for a physical ailment, you can access mental health resources to support your well-being. Whether it’s therapy, mindfulness practices, or other techniques, there’s a range of options to help you manage anxiety and, in turn, combat the exhaustion it brings. Remember, you don’t have to face this journey aloneā€”support is just a step away.