Teens falling asleep in class are a staple of stereotypical movie scenes about high school. But a teen who repeatedly falls asleep and experiences fatigue is no laughing matter.
A recent study found that about 3 percent of teens experienced severe, long-lasting fatigue. About half these teens also had depression or anxiety, which is linked to poorer overall health.
It's possible that teens with symptoms of prolonged fatigue may have undiagnosed anxiety or depression, the study's authors suggested.
The study, led by Femke Lamers, PhD, of the National Institute of Mental Health, looked at how common fatigue was among American teens.
The researchers used data from the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement, which included responses from 10,123 adolescents, aged 13 to 18.
Overall, 3 percent of the teens reported having prolonged fatigue, about half of whom (1.4 percent) experienced fatigue alone. The other half (1.6 percent) with chronic fatigue also reported having depression or an anxiety disorder.
Nearly half of those with chronic fatigue (46.5 percent) had had a major depressive episode, and about a third (34 percent) had a specific phobia about an object or situation.
The authors concluded that having severe, long-lasting fatigue may actually indicate an anxiety or depression disorder in many teens who are not getting the care they need.