Mental Health Mondays: Exploring the Relation Between Depression and Fatigue

By Meg Duke, Behavioral Health Consultant, Legacy Fifth Ward

Living with depression can be tough, especially when it comes with fatigue, one of the most common depression symptoms. Fatigue can disrupt a person’s day-to-day routine as well make it difficult to get depression under control.

People often know what they need to do to see improvements, but the motivation to make those changes is difficult to come by. What can make fatigue so destructive is that the lack of energy and endurance can lead to a cycle of decreasing enjoyable social and physical activity. That can eventually lead to even more depressive symptoms, causing further isolation and lack of movement.

The potential causes of depression related fatigue include: a lack of sleep, a poor diet, excessive stress, not enough exercise, and medications like antidepressants, which are often prescribed to treat depression.

Take These Steps

People suffering from prolonged fatigue due to depression should consider talking to their doctor to develop a treatment plan. That could include healthy lifestyle changes, such as fitting in time for exercise which can reduce fatigue by promoting better sleep. Just one 30 minute session of aerobic exercise can increase energy levels.

Choosing whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources can be part of a healthier diet to help boost mental alertness and reduce daytime sleepiness. Focus on increasing variety in your diet and decreasing added sodium, saturated fats and sugars.

Establishing a regular sleep schedule, decreasing screen time and resulting blue light interaction, avoiding alcohol and caffeine in the hours leading up to bedtime and avoiding heavy meals later in the evening can also help improve sleep.

Fatigue can make depression feel worse. It is important to consider seeking professional help, which can include working with a therapist and, for some, medication management.