Let’s be honest here, it’s no surprise that a mega star like Kanye has been admitted to hospital for suffering from exhaustion. After all, it’s been a busy year – he dropped a new album, released two fashion collections, he’s been touring and he had another baby. Phew!
While it doesn’t quite compare to your 9-5, chances are you could be feeling just as stressed and tired. We all juggle deadlines at work; there are those workouts we need to fit in; not to mention we still have family and friends that we need to see. It’s no wonder you’re suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.
What is chronic fatigue syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome or ‘burn out’ can be a complicated illness, mainly characterised by at least six months of extreme exhaustion that cannot simply be relieved by sleep. The disorder begins suddenly, often following a flulike infection or an episode of physical or psychological trauma, such as surgery, a traumatic accident (in Kanye’s case, Kim’s robbery could be a contributing factor) or the death of a loved one. In other cases, chronic fatigue syndrome develops gradually. And now for some bad news: this form of burn out can lasts for many months or years, and only a small percentage of people recover full health. Yikes.
“Someone with a large workloads will work longer hours. This leads to less time for workouts, making healthy eating decisions, getting enough sleep, neglect for relationships, which could even lead to drug abuse,” says Dr Anthony Koller, specialist psychiatrist at the Akeso Psychiatric Clinic Group. And burn out isn’t just relegated to poor energy levels: emotional exhaustion is one of the key elements of burn out.
“Emotional exhaustion is the almost complete depletion of your emotional reserves,” says Dr Koller. It could get as bad as feeling that you’ve got nothing to give people emotionally. Think: not replying to texts, saying no to coffee-date catch-ups, or just not responding well to a conversation. And that’s depersonalisation, says Dr Koller. “Depersonalisation, refers to the uncharacteristically harsh, unemotional and indifferent way in which a person with burnout begins to treat their clients and or loved ones,” adds Dr Koller.
READ MORE: What Happens When You’re Burnt Out
What to look out for
Chronic stress sucks – literally. It depletes your energy, destroys your desire to get to the gym, and even wipes out your libido. Here’s how burn out can mess with your mind and body:
Aside from the fact that your anxiety might be keeping you up at night, freaking out triggers your brain to release the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream. However frequent stress can cause your brain to limit the amount of cortisol it sends into your bloodstream, which can make you feel like you’re dragging butt all day, every day.
Yup, it’s a sex killer. Chronic stress can impact your body’s production of estrogen, which keeps your reproductive system in working order. When that happens you could feel a dip in your sex drive.
You can’t poop
Those knots in your stomach could be more than just an uneasy feeling. Chronic stress can impact the hormones released by your thyroid glands, which regulate your metabolism among other things. If these hormones get off track, it can lead to constipation.
You can break out
Anxiety wreaks havoc on your immune system, which can make eczema act up or cause skin infections like staph. And when hormones called androgens in your body spike, it can cause acne to flare up.
Traumatic stress, meaning stress that occurs when you feel a threat to your life or a loved one’s life and feels like intense fear or helplessness, seriously impacts your hippocampus, the area of your brain where your memories are stored.
You can gain weight
A study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found that women who were constantly stressed out metabolised fat and sugar differently than those who weren’t anxiety-ridden.
It can make your hair fall out
Just as a spike in androgens can cause your skin to break out, it can also cause your hair to shed more than usual, usually three to six months after a super stressful situation.
This form of exhaustion doesn’t mean you’ll never be happy again. If you’re in the severe end, you may need a combination of rest and medication (chronic fatigue syndrome closely resembles severe depression). And, research shows that mindfulness practice really helps eliminating burn out, so try yoga or meditation. “Ultimately, burn out is a warning sign that there is a lack of fit between one’s working environment and oneself,” says Dr. Koller. If you’re out of sync with your environment, it may be time to re-look your career. Your other solutions: get more sleep, get active, and get help.
Looking for more? Here are six ways to have great sex… even when you’re stressed.