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Lethargy: Definition, Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Home > Blogs > Lethargy: Definition, Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Lethargy: Definition, Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Internal Medicine | Posted on 07/04/2023 by Dr. Rahul Mathur


We have all experienced moments when we don’t feel the energy or any motivation to get out of bed and engage ourselves in regular activities. However, if this fatigue feeling and losing enthusiasm becomes instant, it can indicate lethargy. Lethargy is a disorder that can hugely impact the quality of our life, and affect our productivity, relationships, and overall well-being. In this blog, we will dig deep into what lethargy is, its causes, common symptoms, and solutions that can help in overcoming the problem. 

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What is Lethargy?

Lethargy is a condition in which an individual experiences a state of excessive tiredness and laid-backness. It is determined by a feeling which involves sluggishness mentally & physically, fatigue, and decreased motivation to participate in enjoyable activities. Even though it is usual to experience fatigue bouts on a day-to-day basis, constant and unexplained lethargy, can be a matter of concern. 

What are lethargy causes?

Lethargy can occur in people for different reasons and it is important to be mindful of them. So, let’s have a look at some of the primary lethargy causes: 

  • Inadequate sleep: Lack of sleep can cause tiredness and make the person feel lethargic for the entire day hampering productivity. 


  • Poor diet: It is important to ensure a good diet because a poor diet lacks main nutrients like healthy fats, minerals, vitamins, etc. Poor diet also causes poor energy levels and laziness. 


  • Sedentary lifestyle: If there is inactivity in lifestyle, then it can cause weakness in the muscles and decreased stamina which leads to lethargy. 


  • Stress and emotional factors: These factors involve anxiety, depression, and severe stress which drain out all the energy from the body and leads to fatigue or lethargy in an individual. 


  • Medical conditions: There are medical conditions like anaemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep disorders, and thyroid disorders which can lead to the development of lethargy conditions.

What are common lethargy symptoms?

There are various lethargy symptoms, however, it depends from person to person and might differ for every individual. However, the common symptoms of lethargy include: 

  • Constant tiredness: An individual suffering from lethargy always feels tired even after resting for a nice amount of time or 8 hours of sleep. There is a feeling of fatigue ness throughout the day. 


  • Lack of motivation: People with lethargy find problems when trying to engage themselves in any activity or hobby that they used to enjoy before.


  • Difficulty concentrating: Another symptom that usually becomes a matter of concern is struggling to concentrate. It becomes difficult to enhance cognitive function and there is always fogginess in the brain. 


  • Physical weakness: This symptom is persistent in some individuals as they never feel strong physically. Issues like generalized weakness, less stamina, and poor physical performance are always there. 


  • Emotional changes: People with lethargy often experience emotional changes like Irritability, mood swings, and a feeling of apathy or indifference.

How is lethargy diagnosed?

Lethargy is a symptom determined by different factors such as lacking motivation or energy, and it can occur due to any underlying condition. Here is the process followed to diagnose lethargy:

  • Firstly, the doctor will initiate by asking for a medical history of the patient and the symptoms that are currently being experienced. It also involves questioning about lifestyle factors, medical conditions, etc. 


  • Physical assessment: It is done by performing the assessment of the overall health of a patient. The doctor starts looking for the signs that are contributing to lethargy like physical anomalies, lymph nodes, etc. 


  • Lab tests: These tests often involve blood tests as it helps in assessing complete health and detecting any underlying conditions. These tests also involve complete blood count, kidney function tests, thyroid function tests, blood glucose levels, etc. 


  • Imaging tests: These tests are X-rays, computed tomography scans, magnetic resonance imaging, or ultrasound. It helps in identifying the potential causes of lethargy. 


  • Psychological evaluation: If a doctor doesn’t find any underlying physical cause, then the next step to diagnose lethargy is psychological assessment. It involves evaluating mental health conditions like depression or anxiety.

What are the best options for lethargy treatment?

There can be various reasons that an individual may have to experience lethargy, and one of them is an underlying condition such as dehydration, autoimmune diseases, etc. Lethargy treatment entirely depends on its cause. Usually, to treat the condition, different medications like antidepressants and over-the-counter drugs are given. However, if there is no underlying condition and the reasons are physical or emotional then stress, then a internal medicine doctor recommends certain lifestyle changes that are helpful. Here are these lifestyle changes:

  • Make sure to establish a proper sleeping routine and try creating a bedtime routine that is relaxing. 
  • Ensure maintaining a balanced diet filled with nutrients like fruits, whole grains, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, etc. to offer the required energy to the body. 
  • Make sure to indulge yourself in regular physical activities as it helps in boosting levels of energy, improve circulation, and enhance mood. 
  • Managing stress plays an important role to reduce the effects of lethargy. So, make sure to include meditation, deep breathing, and relaxation techniques. 
  • Another important tip is seeking support. Always ensure connecting with friends, family, and support groups to share feelings, seek guidance, and combat isolation feelings. 
  • Make sure to get in touch with a healthcare expert for assessing any medical condition or side effects of medications you might be taking. 
  • Lastly, ensure practicing self-care that benefits in promoting mental and physical well-being.


Lethargy is among the conditions which can impact the day-to-day life of an individual. It is very important to seek the immediate assistance of a medical professional so that on-time diagnosis and treatment can be offered to the patient.If you are someone who suspects that you might be suffering from lethargy, then get in touch with an with an internal medicine doctor at Rukmani Birla Hospital, Jaipur, so that not only the problem is identified beforehand, but treatment is also offered that’s suitable for you.



Is lethargy a sign of depression?

Yes, lethargy is identified to be one of the primary causes of depression and anxiety.

How to avoid lethargy?

There are certain tips that can help in avoiding lethargy such as:

  • Proper sleep routine’
  • Eating healthy 
  • Exercising regularly 
  • Seeking medical help on-time 
  • Manage stress