Depression is a common mental illness that has fatigue as one of its major symptoms. People may have fatigue related to depression that makes it difficult to participate in daily activities. Even patients who have been treated for depression may have ongoing fatigue. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly used to treat depression, tend not to make you more fatigued but it doesn’t always lift the fatigue associated with this condition.
One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with depression is the fatigue that commonly goes along with the other symptoms of depression.
Because of ongoing fatigue, you may not want to do anything fun and it often interferes with your ability to seek help for the depression. It can be a cyclical problem with fatigue leading to a lack of ability to do things, which leads to a depressed state of mind and even more fatigue.
Dealing with Anergia
Anergia stands for “lack of energy”—a common aspect of depression. If the depression is untreated, the fatigue can become worse so that the person loses muscle strength and stamina from a lack of energy. Only when the depression is managed can the fatigue begin to lift somewhat.
The Treatment of the Fatigue of Depression
Fatigue in depression can be associated with a lack of sleep, inactivity or even with some of the antidepressants used in the management of depression. SSRIs and SNRIs tend not to cause as much fatigue as tricyclic antidepressants but it can still happen. Even when treated, depression can be associated with ongoing fatigue.
Usually the fatigue is related to the depression but it can be due to other conditions unrelated to depression so if it persists for too long, a workup for other causes of depression needs to take place. If it is due to the medication, a change to another antidepressant may be in order. Stimulant medications may need to be added to the SSRI medication in order to resolve any lingering fatigue symptoms.
If the depressed person sees a therapist, they may talk about ways to reduce fatigue with depression. Some ways to cope with depression-related fatigue include staying physically active, socializing more with friends or relatives, trying not to do too much all at once, and being realistic about goal-setting regarding daily activities.
Lifestyle Tips in Fighting Depression Fatigue
There are things that can be done to reduce the level of fatigue in depressed patients. Some helpful tips to reduce fatigue include the following:
• Get Exercise
Daily aerobic exercise can help the depressed patient sleep better so they can awaken refreshed and less fatigued throughout the day. Exercise can be energizing, which is the opposite of what one might think. Think about exercising for thirty minutes a day in an aerobic form of exercise to battle fatigue.
• Eat better
If you eat a diet too high in fat, this can contribute to fatigue. Diets that instead involve eating many carbohydrates can energize you. The types of carbs that have the greatest effect on improving fatigue are complex carbohydrates. You can get many complex carbohydrates by eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These are more slowly digested that foods containing simple carbohydrates, like candy, pastries, white bread and sodas.
• Sleep using good sleep habits
It is important to get enough sleep in order to fight fatigue. You can sleep better if you don’t eat heavy meals before bedtime, sleep only at night, have a regular sleep habit, and avoid taking in stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol too close to bedtime. Regular exercise can improve sleep and you need good sleep hygiene, such as using the bedroom only for sleep and keeping the bedroom area dark, comfortable for sleeping, and quiet.
Because fatigue can cause a relapse of depression, it is important to tackle the fatigue even after some of the other depressive symptoms have resolved.
Keep in mind that depression is a highly treatable condition, and it is important to seek professional help if your depression is ongoing and is interfering with your everyday life.