Depression and Fatigue
Fatigue, both emotional and physical, is one of the most common symptoms of clinical depression. Fatigue can also contribute to the onset of depression. In fact, the relationship between fatigue and depression is so intimate it can be difficult to know when one stops and the other starts or which one is causing the other.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a clinical disorder in which a person is not able to function properly on an emotional level. Due to a shortage of or inability to properly use critical brain chemicals, depressed people experience the following symptoms:
- Emotional numbness (an inability to feel anything positive or negative)
- Persistent sadness or crying
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Eating too much or losing appetite
- Sexual dysfunction
- Loss of hope for the future
- Headache or body pain
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Some individuals cycle between times of major depression and times of irrational euphoria, reckless and impulsive behavior and irritability. This condition, known as bipolar disorder, can be extremely troubling, confusing and painful. It is very common for people suffering from depression or bipolar disorder to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.
What Is Fatigue?
There is more to fatigue than just being tired. Fatigue is a deeper and more persistent feeling of exhaustion that can have the following emotional and physiological symptoms:
- Constant tiredness
- An inability to get satisfying sleep
- Difficulty managing emotions (outbursts, breakdowns, weeping, rage, etc.)
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
- Unwillingness to engage in social activities
- Excessive time spent watching TV, surfing the internet or otherwise “killing time”
- Lack of interest in physical activity
- Loss of interest in sex
- Marked changes in eating habits
Fatigue is not relieved with sleep. Some individuals suffering from chronic fatigue turn to substances such as caffeine, amphetamines or cocaine to give them a boost of energy. The use of any mind-altering substances while depressed or fatigued can place a person at an increased risk for addiction. Experiencing fatigue for an extended period of time can definitely lead to depression, and depression can cause fatigue.
Stopping the Vicious Cycle of Depression and Fatigue
The same part of the brain that manages emotions is also involved with regulating energy levels, alertness, waking and sleeping, eating and appetite and sexual response. Imbalances in the naturally occurring chemicals the brain uses to manage these physical and emotional functions can be caused by substance abuse, trauma or hereditary patterns. The only hope for lasting and meaningful relief comes from comprehensive treatment of an individual’s mental and physical health. The following treatment elements are commonly used to interrupt and correct the cycle of fatigue and depression:
- Individual counseling such as cognitive behavioral therapy
- Carefully monitored and administered medical treatment
- Support group gatherings
- Nutritional support
- Physical activity
- Medically supervised detox (when appropriate)
- Yoga, prayer, meditation, massage and other Eastern forms of relaxation and mindfulness
- Introduction to healthy, effective, coping and self-awareness skills
One side effect of some depression medication can be fatigue, so it is important that any use of medication be watched closely for adverse effects.
24 Hour Depression Helpline
If you are suffering from symptoms of fatigue or depression, or if you are concerned for a friend or loved one, please call our toll-free helpline any time of day or night. Our staff members are ready to answer your questions and connect you with the best treatment program for your specific needs. Call now.