ZocdocAnswersWhy do I feel weak, get low grade fevers, and feel like I'm losing my mind?

Question

Why do I feel weak, get low grade fevers, and feel like I'm losing my mind?

For about 2 years I've had an illness that attacks me periodically. I get very weak, dizzy and lose some of my cognitive function. To put it plainly, I feel like I'm losing my mind. I can't think appropriately and I feel so weak and tired. I get low grade fevers when this happens as well. It usually happens worse when I get my menses. I don't have regular periods and only have them every 3 to 6 months, although I have gone a year between periods before. My doctor is completely baffled and just wanted to refer me to a psychiatrist or therapist. I explained that I've been seeing a therapist for years, and she believes it is something medical because the way I act when it happens is out of character for me. What could this possibly be?

Answer

I do have a few general thoughts that might be helpful for you, although getting a formal diagnosis is going to require working closely with your regular doctor and, potentially, a few specialists. First, I think the fact that these symptoms occur with your periods is very interesting and potentially helpful. For example, there are two conditions, the premenstrual syndrome and also premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which can present with both mood symptoms (such as feeling "out of it"), fatigue, and other physical symptoms such as weakness, around the time of the period. Although these symptoms are usually mild, they can be sometimes quite severe and can require treatment with medications. Your primary care doctor could consider this diagnosis, or consider a consultation with a psychiatrist for additional help clarifying this possibility. Second, I would suggest measuring the fevers when you have them. I say this because what are commonly referred to as "low grade fevers" are in fact not fevers at all but rather minor fluctuations in body temperature - typically your temperature needs to get to around 100.5 to be considered a fever, if it is less than this, then it is probably not a fever. However, if it is higher, then this opens up an avenue for investigation that will need to be followed more closely. Again, please speak with your doctor.

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