Fatigue can be one of the first symptoms of depression, and one of the most noticeable. You might find yourself thinking things like “I’m tired of being tired,” or “I just want to sleep the day away.” Are you wondering why depression makes you tired? We’re here to explore several reasons why you might be experiencing this.
The nature of the disorder
Depression affects the neurotransmitters in your brain that control how awake and alert you feel. In our experience, it is very rare that fatigue is NOT one of the main symptoms of someone suffering from depression. Feeling excessively tired should be a warning sign that there is an imbalance of chemicals in your brain that needs to be addressed by a mental health professional.
Depression can disrupt sleeping patterns, causing greater levels of fatigue during the day. It takes depressed people longer to fall asleep too, which results in them sleeping for less time than their non-depressive counterparts. A good night’s rest has many restorative properties for brain function, and when sleep is light, interrupted, or insufficiently long, restorative processes can be interrupted, and even halted. Sufficient rest is a key factor of managing a mental illness.
Fatigue can be a side effect of several antidepressant medications. Talk to your doctor if you feel your medications could be contributing to your fatigue.
Managing work, family responsibilities, and possibly education is already a heavy stress load, but adding an additional stressor like a mental illness can exhaust anyone’s energy levels.
Have you ever heard “The Spoon Theory” by Christine Miserandino? It’s typically used in the chronic illness sector to demonstrate how much energy certain tasks take for people with chronic illnesses. The theory is that if everyone in the world started the day with a certain number of spoons, representing units of energy, a normal person would spend one spoon to wake up, shower, dress, and eat breakfast, while a person with chronic illness might spend two or three spoons doing so.
Are you running out of spoons by the middle of the day? That might be a sign that you need to cut back on some things. Managing stress and outside obligations or responsibilities can help alleviate some tiredness.
Other reasons you might experience fatigue
It’s possible that your fatigue is not caused by your depression, but by other medical issues such as thyroid problems, anemia or chronic fatigue syndrome. Talk to your doctor to determine the underlying cause of your fatigue, and they can help you find a solution that’s right for you.
If your depression reaches a point where you cannot complete daily functioning, it’s most likely time to seek inpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment centers like Salt Lake Behavioral Health can provide structure and tools for helping you manage your illness.
In treatment, you’ll attend therapy, learn coping mechanisms, learn about your illness, and attend groups that can help you understand what you’re going through a little better. To receive a free, confidential mental health assessment to see if you should seek inpatient treatment, talk to our mental health team by calling 801-264-6000.