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What Causes Lack of Energy & Weight Loss?

author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.
What Causes Lack of Energy & Weight Loss?
People who do not have access to healthy foods may develop malnutrition. Photo Credit: DmitriMaruta/iStock/Getty Images

Most people experience tiredness and weight changes at some point in their lives. In many cases, stress, medications, or mild colds or viruses cause such symptoms. Lack of energy and weight loss can also indicate a serious condition, however, such as depression, malnutrition or cancer. If your symptoms are severe or persistent, seek guidance from your doctor. Once the underlying cause is determined and treated, lack of energy and weight problems generally improve.

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Depression is a complex psychological illness that causes elongated periods of feelings such as sadness, loneliness, anger or lack of purpose, that interfere with a person's ability to function normally. Though symptoms of depression vary, lack of energy and weight loss are common. Additional symptoms may include insomnia or excessive sleepiness, body aches, bouts of crying for no apparent reason, loss of interest in pleasurable activities and on-going pessimism. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, even the most serious cases of depression are treatable, most often through a combination of individual counseling and medication. If you or a loved one experiences at least one symptom of depression that recurs frequently or lasts longer than two weeks, seek guidance from your doctor.


Malnutrition occurs when your body does not receive proper nutrients. It can occur when you lack an overall balanced diet, or when you're severely deficient in even one nutrient. People who do not have access to healthy foods and those who have medical conditions that disrupt digestion, such as Celiac disease and Crohn's disease, may develop symptoms of malnutrition, which include physical weakness, weight loss, dizziness, and increased susceptibility to infections and disease. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, malnutrition continues to pose significant problems around the world, particularly among children. Treatment for malnutrition may include an overall improved diet, vitamin supplementation or treatment for an underlying illness. If you have difficulty adhering to a healthy diet or are struggling with reduced energy and weight loss with no apparent cause, seek prompt guidance from your doctor.


In some cases, weight loss and lack of energy are symptoms of a serious disease, such as cancer. Cancer cells may use up much of the body's energy supply and lead to extreme tiredness and weight loss. Cancer can also alter the way your body reacts to certain foods, resulting in similar symptoms. According to the American Cancer Society, all cancer patients can expect to experience weight loss and reduced energy at some point during their illness, either as initial symptoms or as side effects of treatment, such as chemotherapy. Additional symptoms of cancer may include fever, pain and changes in skin tone.

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