Reviewed by Rashonda Douthit, LCSW
Depressive disorders can cause a variety of symptoms, one of which is fatigue or tiredness. Often, people with depression experience lethargy or low levels of energy. This can make it hard to engage in daily life obligations, tend to interpersonal relationships, and so on. Depression is challenging to live with, but the good news is that it's treatable. Continue reading for information about depression symptoms, the link between depression and fatigue, and how to navigate depression symptoms.
Depression symptoms aren’t limited to tiredness, low energy, or fatigue. Depression symptoms may include:
- Loss of interest in activities one used to enjoy
- Low or depressed mood
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Low energy
- Excessive crying
- Emotional numbness
- Irritability or agitation
- Social withdrawal or isolation
- Sleeping too much or too little (hypersomnia or insomnia)
- Changes in appetite
- Trouble focusing or concentrating
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt
Note that there are different types of depression, each of which includes varying diagnostic criteria and symptoms. Most depression symptoms, however, can present in any depressive disorder. Examples of different depressive disorders include persistent depressive disorder or PDD, major depressive disorder or MDD, seasonal affective disorder or SAD, which is actually a subtype of MDD, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder a PMDD. In PMDD, there are actually hormonal reasons why a person might struggle to sleep during an episode. Many people who menstruate struggle to sleep before their menstrual cycle. If you think that you could have PMDD or any other depressive disorder, be sure to reach out to a medical provider.
Fatigue And Depression
It is said that 90% of those with depression actually experience fatigue as a symptom. Why is that? There are several potential reasons for low energy, fatigue, or tiredness in those with depression. First, depression is an exhausting experience. Depression symptoms like feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, low mood, or excessive crying can be completely exhausting. Second, another depression symptom is problems with sleep or sleeping too much or too little. If you're unable to sleep due to depression, if you wake up too early due to depression, or if you sleep less than is optimal, it makes sense that you would feel fatigued and drained. It's also suggested that fatigue is one of the most difficult residual depression symptoms to treat. That said, no matter the reason for fatigue as a symptom of depression, depression treatment can help with your depressive symptoms, including fatigue. If you have depression or think that you might, it's important to reach out for help. While it can take time, depression treatment can be life-changing.
Tips For Sleep
Whether you have depression or not, it is important to have good sleep hygiene. If you struggle with sleep and believe that it could impact your tiredness throughout the day, consider looking at your sleep hygiene and making your sleep routine as effective as possible. Here are some tips for good sleep hygiene:
- Do not use your electronics directly before bed. The blue light from your phone, as well as the stimulation from having conversations or browsing social media before bed, can keep you up, so you must turn it off or set it aside.
- Make sure that your bedroom is quiet, dark, and distraction-free. Again, making sure that your electronic devices are shut off can help with this.
- If you drink coffee or beverages that contain caffeine, reserve caffeine for the morning. Don't consume it in the afternoon or at night. Lower your overall caffeine intake if it may be impacting your sleep.
- Consistency is key. Try to go to bed at roughly the same time and wake up at roughly the same time daily, if possible. Waking up late might keep you up at night and make it harder to fall asleep, which is why a schedule can be so important.
- If you feel stressed, be sure to integrate stress management skills into your life. You can do this by going to counseling, using mindfulness exercises, or making sure that your obligations and workload are manageable. Stress can contribute to mental health conditions and sleep troubles, so this is an all-around important thing to implement into your life. Stress is often normalized in society, but it has various known health detriments, so make all possible efforts to decrease or manage stress.
If none of these tips improve a disturbed sleep schedule, make sure to tell your doctor what you've tried so that they can brainstorm with you and help you find what works.
Do I Have Depression, Or Am I Just Tired?
It is important to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing your tiredness if you're asking yourself this question. Talk to your doctor and see if they can rule out any medical conditions that could be causing your fatigue. Keep in mind that some medical conditions can actually mimic, worsen, or cause depressive symptoms. The only person that can help you answer this for sure is a medical or mental health professional. Still, it is very important to rule out the possibility of a condition such as a thyroid condition impacting your mood and energy levels, especially if you have a family history of any said conditions.
What Is High Functioning Depression?
Sometimes, when people talk about depression, one of the terms that come up is "high functioning depression." This is a very controversial term because, in reality, no form of depression is easy to live with. What high functioning depression generally refers to is depression that someone can mask on the outside. It doesn't mean that they're not struggling inside. Someone with high functioning depression or what would be nicknamed high functioning depression may seem happy, have a high level of accomplishments in work or in life, have excellent relationships, and seem to have it all together. However, underneath, they are actually very depressed. This is one reason why it's so important not to judge what someone else is going through or compare yourself to other people. It's an example of how depression can manifest in many different ways—those with "high functioning" depression still very much, so experience depressive symptoms, including fatigue. Depression is hard no matter what, and if you do have depression that appears functioning, you can still benefit from support.
One of the most effective ways to navigate depression symptoms is to seek a medical or mental health professional's help. Again, while there's no known cure for depression, it is a treatable mental health condition. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, is one of the most popular and effective therapy forms used for depression. Other forms of support for those with depressive disorders may include support groups, online forums, or support from friends and family. It's important to note that, while these forms of support may be incredibly advantageous, they are supplementary and are not a replacement for professional help.
Find Depression Treatment
If you require a counselor or therapist, or if you think you may benefit from seeing one, here are some of the routes you can take:
- Ask your doctor for a referral
- Contact your insurance company or visiting their websites to see which providers are covered in your area
- If applicable, see what your college or university offers in terms of onsite counseling services
- If applicable, see what your church or religious institution offers in terms of mental health services
- Visit a community center that provides low-cost mental health services
- Use an online directory or provider search tool like the one on the upper right-hand corner of the Mind Diagnostics website
- Conduct a web search for counselors or therapists who work with depression near you
You might also consider trying an online therapy website such as BetterHelp. Online counseling and online therapy are often more affordable than traditional in-person services. Additionally, you can access online counseling or therapy from anywhere with a reliable internet connection, and you may be able to connect with a therapist faster when using online therapy or counseling websites. Know that you can always switch if you don't like the first counselor or therapist you see. If you're struggling with depressive symptoms, there is hope.
Take The Mind Diagnostics Depression Test
Are you experiencing fatigue or other symptoms of depression? If so, you might benefit from taking the Mind Diagnostics Depression test. Although it's not a replacement for a diagnosis or an evaluation from a medical or mental health professional, it can give you insight into your symptoms and what you might be going through. While depression can impact anyone, the Mind Diagnostics depression test is for those aged 18 and older.
Click here to take the Mind Diagnostics depression test.
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Please note: Our screens are for adults only. By participating you acknowledge that the screen is not a diagnostic instrument and is only to be used by you if you are 18 years or older. You are encouraged to share your results with a physician or healthcare provider. Mind Diagnostics, sponsors, partners, and advertisers disclaim any liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from the use and application of these screens. If you are in need of immediate assistance, please dial 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255.