1 Lethargy summary

Lethargy can be simply defined as a symptom that makes someone feel sluggish and fatigued or sometimes lacking energy. Lethargy can be an indication of a lot of conditions, normally caused by lack of sleep or over-exertion. Lethargy is associated with difficulty in concentration and distraction in performance of normal activity. So, what does lethargic mean?

Usually it is accompanied by apathy or depression and a lack of motivation. In most cases it is caused by lack of adequate sleep. Moreover, it is also caused by lack of exercise, or too much exercise, and improper nutrition.

It can usually be simply resolved by proper nutrition, reduced stress levels, and proper sleeping patterns. However, if you can barely resolve your lethargy issues, it may be a sign of a psychological disorder.

2 What are the symptoms of lethargy?

If you are feeling the below symptoms, you might consider yourself to feel lethargic.

  • Insomnia, fatigue, and weakness
  • Abrupt changes in weight, whether loss or gain
  • Appetite changes as well as changes in bowel and urine,
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Low concentration and being mentally fatigued throughout the day, no matter the time
  • Skin irritation and sometimes rashes
  • Dehydration

3 What causes lethargy?

A number of conditions can be considered causes of feeling lethargic.

Here are just a few causes of lethargy:

  • Asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Sleeping and eating disorders
  • Thyroid issues
  • Side effect from medication, or interaction between various medicines
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Anxiety also causes lethargy. Anxiety results in the body releasing adrenaline. Without adrenaline your body lacks stimulation.

4 When do I seek medical help for lethargy?

You should seek medical attention if your lethargy is accompanied by:

  • Chest pains
  • Back, abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Change in heartbeat, especially if the heart beats faster
  • Feeling lightheaded

You should seek urgent medication if you are lethargic and bleeding or vomiting blood.

5 How is lethargy incorporated into diagnosis?

The doctor will be concerned about:

  • Your sleeping patterns, how often you feel lethargic and at what time of day.
  • She or he will want to know your daily routine, or if you are under stress.
  • The doctor will also need to know what you eat, and if you exercise or not.
  • If you are under any medication or if you use drugs
  • Other symptoms that you are experiencing

If caused by depression, it will last all day beginning in the morning. Lethargy caused by malfunction of the thyroid gland will occur throughout the day, and is accompanied by weight gain, constipation, being more sensitive to cold, and dry skin.

Shortness of breath could be an indication of lung as well as heart problems. In case the cause of lethargy is heart issues, diagnosis will be unclear and normally not relieved by rest or a proper diet. Problems with the cardiovascular or respiratory system, like asthma, could also cause lethargy.

The best way to be sure, of course, is to be examined by a qualified physician. It is usually tested through urine or blood tests, and also imaging.

Lethargy is not necessarily a serious issue, but you might consider visiting your doctor in case of:

  • Sudden chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Energy loss
  • High fever
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Shortness of breath

However, if left untreated, it may result in permanent health damage.

Lethargy leads to a decrease in muscular strength, which affects your ability to perform physical activities. If treatment is delayed, it may lead to a permanent lack of response to a stimulus, may it be emotional or physical.

Medical Conditions Associated with Lethargy

6 How is lethargy treated?

Lethargy is treated depending on its cause. For example, if it is caused by depression, you will be advised to visit a psychologist or psychiatrist for treatment.

If your lethargy is not connected to a root cause, try to get an appropriate amount of sleep and exercise every day. Also make sure you maintain a proper diet for your height and weight.

7 Symptoms of lethargy in depression

Depression is linked to chemical imbalances, therefore making lethargy not only a physical but also a mental condition. Depressed people are more likely to be lethargic. Basically, depression is the lack of motivation to do anything, and the affected individuals tend to be dormant and are often tired.

Lethargy may be considered severe when an individual lacks the drive to even get out of bed.

Symptom of decreased alertness

Decreased alertness is noticeable especially in the morning. It is not uncommon to suffer a decline in your energy levels that makes it difficult to perform even the lightest of tasks. With lethargy, your responses and reflexes are slowed, so loud noises or abrupt disturbances may go unnoticed.

Symptoms of cognitive impairment

Decreased concentration, attention and an exhausted mind makes it difficult to learn. Your memory is altered, making it difficult to remember; moreover, it becomes harder to recognize or solve issues. Over time, you become a slow thinker with reduced mental patience.

Symptoms of sleep disturbance

Insomnia is the most common sign of depression. Depression is characterized by a lot of emotions or lack thereof including: guilt, hopelessness, and a sense of no belonging. These can make it extremely hard to sleep. Due to lack of sleep, lethargy comes as a result. You then have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and getting up.

Emotional symptoms

Lethargy leads to a decrease in motivation, and venturing into any sort of activity seems impossible. You develop a constant feeling of boredom and development of anti-social behavior. Activities you once enjoyed become difficult to engage in. Your esteem and self-worth decrease as you begin to feel inadequate.

8 How to prevent lethargy

There are various approaches in preventing lethargy. These can include dietary, lifestyle, sleeping. or psychological approaches. Lethargy is caused by lack of energy and prevention should be aimed at restoring it.


  • Drink a lot of water. Lethargy occurs as a result of fatigue that may be an indication of dehydration.
  • Monitor your alcohol and caffeine intake.
  • Do not skip breakfast or any meals. Skipping meals may result in low levels of blood sugar and a decrease in your energy levels.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and avoid over eating.


  • Avoid smoking. Research shows that smokers’ energy levels are lower than those of non-smokers
  • Be active. Being inactive easily leads to lethargy. Exercise not only refreshes your mind but enables you to sleep better.
  • Talk to your managers or HR department at work. If work becomes strenuous or you are having a hard time completing tasks, consider having a meeting rather than stressing about it on your own.
  • Avoid sleeping during the day.
  • Develop a regular sleeping pattern by going to bed the same time each night.
  • Avoid stressful events or activities like over-exercising.
  • Refrain from sleeping pills and find a natural way to relax your mind.

Psychological problems

  • Confide in someone. Talking therapy is a known solution to help eliminate fatigue and lethargy.
  • Avoid stress. A lot of energy is used up when you are stressed. Find some hobbies or activities that relax you.
  • Take some time off work. Create recreational time to spend with friends and family. It goes a long way when it comes to relaxing yourself.
  • Always think about the results of what you do rather than the process. Putting too much thought into how to do something will eventually result in stress.

Keep organized!

Being organized shows you are in control and prevents events clashing, therefore stressful situations are avoided. Knowing what to do and how to do it saves a lot of energy. Having an organized plan is relaxing, motivating, and plays a key role in improving your productivity.

Moreover, improved productivity can act as a boost for self-esteem. Being organized allows you to allocate time to yourself, too.

9 What's the difference between fatigue and lethargy?

Fatigue is a physical condition that results from exhaustion, while lethargy is a mental health issue portrayed by persistent exhaustion or drowsiness.

Generally, lethargy is a condition that is as a result of low energy levels.

Fatigue has one cause: exhaustion. Lethargy has a variety of causes that range from incorrect diet to lack of proper rest.

10 Lethargy in dogs

In general, dogs are energetic, full of high spirits, and naturally curious. Their levels of energy can wave in an unusual manner depending on several factors, such as the levels of wellness and fitness, diet, and the stimulation levels that they acquire from you, their owner. If you suddenly detect variation in your dog’s energy, it could be life-threatening, particularly if they seem sleepy and exhausted very often time.

Frequent lethargy in dogs is an indication that should not be ignored by any pet owner. Any dog suffering from lethargy could be letting you know that something is unwell. In this event, a heedful observation is needed, and a knowledgeable and skillful veterinarian will examine other symptoms and locate the issue.

Reasons for your dog being lethargic

Lethargy in dogs presents itself emotionally and physically. The dog portrays limited or no concern in what is taking place around him or her, and there is always a detectable response delay to outside stimuli, which includes touch, sight, sound or smell. Do you find your dog quiet and inactive when you get home? Does your dog refuse to eat during usual mealtime? These are some signs of a lethargic dog.

Both physical and mental factors can make a dog lethargic. Some of the possible reasons why your dog may be lethargic include the following.

Infection: Any type of infection including those that are life-threatening such as parvovirus, leptospirosis, distemper, kennel cough, and heartworm illness can cause lethargy in dogs.

  • Parvovirus is spread through the feces. Symptoms include lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, and pain in the abdomen. Treatment involves intense supportive care accompanied by fluids, anti-nausea medicines, and antibiotics.
  • Distemper symptoms include fever, lethargy, eye and nose discharge, and coughing. It can stimulate neurological disorders. Distemper signs are wide and differ from one dog to another. Treatment includes the use of antibiotics, anticonvulsants, and fluids.
  • Kennel cough can be defined as a contagious respiratory illness where the most typical symptom includes a dry cough. Dogs suffering from kennel cough are lethargic and feverish. Treatments include cough suppressants, bronchodilators, and antibiotics.
  • Heartworm disease is induced by heartworms, which get into your dog via the bites of a mosquito. Heartworm infection symptoms include depression, lethargy, fever, and weakness. The best option is to prevent the disease using injectable or oral medications. Treatment can include injections and a period of isolated rest.
  • Metabolic and organic illness: Many other chronic conditions can make your dog lethargic. These can include heart conditions, liver defects, hypoglycemia, and diabetes.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Lethargy, loss of appetite, rapid breathing, and reduced tolerance for exercise are some of the signs of congestive heart failure in dogs. Treatment relies on advancement of the condition and can include diuretics, heart medicines, and changes in diet.
  • Liver disease: The indications of liver issues in dogs are lethargy, jaundice, appetite deprivation, depression, and the bloating of the abdomen. Liver treatment is vital and may involve drugs, changes in diet, or surgery.
  • Diabetes mellitus: The Signs include unreasonable thirst, weight loss, and appetite variation. The treatment involves insulin injections together with diet modifications.
  • Hypoglycemia is a condition that is characterized by low levels of blood sugar. The signs include weakness in dogs, which leads to seizures. Treatment relies on the cause of hypoglycemia. The short-run medical aid includes oral corn syrup or injecting glucose intravenously.

Other problems can cause lethargy in dogs, such as trauma, snake bite, tumour, pain, anaemia, hormonal defects, poisoning from food, and many others.

Call your vet immediately if you detect signs of lethargy.

Steps to take after discovering that your dog is lethargic

Lethargy in dogs is substantial evidence that they require your assistance. Do not brush it off. Check other abnormal behaviors and other indications to locate the cause of the condition. If the dog does not get better in 24 hours, consider medical assistance. The veterinarian conducts various tests such as a blood count examination, chemical urine analysis, x-rays, biochemical profile, and a fecal exam.

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