depression fatigue

What you need to know about depression fatigue

Are you tired of being tired all day? It could be the handy work of depression.

There are millions of people with depression globally, and about 90% of them have depression fatigue.

depression fatigue

This means that they constantly feel sleepy, too tired to work, exercise, or even eat.

Besides the fatigue, depression also makes you feel anxious, low energy, and without much interest in your once loved activities.

Depression is highly treatable, and you can recover from its fatigue.

In this article, we will discuss the relationship between fatigue and depression and how you can manage them.

What causes depression fatigue?

There are many reasons why people feel tired because of depression. However, when trying to overcome depression fatigue, it is easy to get into a hard-to-break cycle because the causes are related.

Some of the causes of depression fatigue include changes in sleeping patterns, diet, medication, stress, etc.

Changes in sleeping patterns

Changes in sleeping patterns are one of the primary causes of depression fatigue. According to studies, 80% of people with depression have insomnia, and the remaining, hypersomnia.

Insomnia means difficulty in falling or staying asleep, while hypersomnia means oversleeping.

Though insomnia is significantly responsible for depression fatigue, oversleeping can also cause fatigue over a long time.

a man with depression fatigue

People with insomnia don’t get enough sleep, and because of this, their brains do not refresh adequately. Hence, after a short, shallow sleep, they wake up feeling more tired and unable to run their schedule.

Even when a person with depression gets up to eight hours of sleep every day, they may still wake up feeling not refreshed because they have a lower quality of sleep than a person that is not depressed.

According to research, many people with depression, alongside other mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, usually experience hypersomnia and insomnia.

Another kind of sleeping disorder is obstructive sleep apnea.

This condition is also linked with depression. A study from 2015 showed that many people with depression have sleep apnea. This intensifies the severity of their sleep apnea.

It is important to treat sleep apnea when trying to improve depression symptoms. Though this may not really alleviate depression, it will go a long way in making you feel better.

Poor nutrition

Diets have long affected mental health. This is backed up by a recent meta-analysis which covered many studies checking for the link between depression and diets.

depression fatigue

But even without the studies, you know that when you are depressed, you may lose appetite, skip meals, or have an increasing appetite for sweet foods and beverages with lesser nutritional value.

Sadly, taking a large amount of sugar, processed foods, and fat increases depression fatigue and makes you feel groggy.

They have been evidence found from research that taking highly nutritional meals, especially those with anti-inflammatory foods, can reduce one’s risk of depression. However, more research is still needed for this.

However, there is a need to eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and other nutritional foods to give your body a high amount of antioxidants and nutrients to boost energy levels.

These foods are beneficial for your mental health, though they are the ones we quickly put aside immediately depression sets in.

A stressed mind

Depression has been found to increase chronic stress, and stress is a known cause of depression.

When people are depressed and wake up with low energy, they put extra effort into their daily routine. This, in turn, gets them more exhausted, and the cycle continues.

Also, stress causes inflammation in the body, and this inflammation is known to increase one’s risk of fatigue and hypersomnia. It can also be the reason people withdraw from social activities and have a foggy mind.

depression fatigue

So, as stress causes depression, depression also increases one’s risk of chronic stress, worsening depression. This is one of the reasons people keep getting exhausted as the depression worsens.

Another prevalent cause of depression fatigue is the overactivity of the brain.

When the amygdala, a part of the brain linked to fear, stress, and anxiety, is overactive, it alters thinking. It makes people see the world and themselves negatively. These feelings are the commonest linked to depression.

Lack of exercise

Exercise boosts energy, but when you are depressed, you lose interest in many activities, including exercise. This decrease in exercise reduces your energy rush and leads to fatigue.

Don’t quickly blame yourself for not exercising during depression is because you are lazy. There is more to it than laziness.

You may not have the motivation to exercise, and because you have feelings like low self-esteem and pessimism, they interfere with your exercise.

Identifying these factors and understanding their role in depression fatigue is an excellent way to find the best help and coping strategies.

How to cope with depression fatigue

It is unwise to wait until the medications and therapy work for you before you handle depression fatigue since this can be a long time.

You can start feeling better and more motivated to keep up with the therapies with the following coping tips:


A meta-analysis proves that doing low to moderate-intensity exercise for more than 20 minutes is enough to give you an energy boost and reduce fatigue. It increases your energy by promoting sleep.

exercise for depression fatigue

Though it may be difficult to get yourself to do the exercise, having a friend or registering in the gym can help get you out of bed.

If taking more than 20 minutes of exercise sounds overwhelming, you can start small with at least five minutes.

Improve your quality of sleep

There are many ways to improve your sleep quality and manage depression fatigue. But the most important one is improving your sleep hygiene.

Good sleep hygiene is those habit that can enable you to fall and stay deeply asleep.

To improve your sleep hygiene, you need to develop some habits as stated below, consciously

  • Have consistent sleeping and working times. You can make your body used to a sleeping routine by going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. This way, your body will naturally feel sleepy when the time for bed comes.
  • Ensure that your bedroom is comfortable. This might sound like hard work, but you need a quiet, relaxing, and darkroom to fall asleep. The temperature of your room also matters. People feel comfortable at different temperatures, so you may need to try out the different room temperatures to know if you are comfortable.
  • Remove distracting items from your bedroom. This is where we fall prey most times. Computers, smartphones, and TV remotes and the rest are enticing distractions and keep us awake. Like you know, using your phone at night introduces blue light to your eyes and makes it more difficult to fall asleep. So taking them out can be the best option.
depression fatigue

Others are:

  • Avoid taking alcohol and caffeine when bedtime is near.
  • Avoid sleeping for long in the afternoons
  • Only eat light meals before bedtime

Try adding some nutritious foods to your diet

Without saying, this can be a challenging thing to do because of the stress of thinking about what fit at a particular time. But implementing more nutritious fruit into your diet can really help your fatigue and exhaustion.

Fatty fish, leafy greens, blueberries, green tea, chocolate, yoghurts, and other probiotics are great at reducing depression fatigue and helping your mental health.

Avoid sugary foods and fruits high in fat, as they can increase your blood sugar rush and disturb your sleep, thereby worsening your symptoms of depression.

Watch comedies and funny videos

Since low-level serotonin and dopamine are related to depression fatigue, laughing will naturally increase their production.

I quickly found this helpful and was able to gather some crazy funny videos and my smartphone, and turned to them whenever I felt depressed and tired. They work like magic!

depression fatigue

Connect with people

Without saying, connecting with people seems like an unthinkable thing to do when depressed. The fear of stigmatisation makes it even worse.

However, relating with people helps alleviate depression. It is soothing to know that there is someone out there that cares about you.

Talk to that someone when you feel like you are overthinking to give your mind a break. Don’t say there is no one. Your parents, siblings, and some neighbours care.

Self-care is still important

Self-care is highly overrated now, but that doesn’t reduce its importance in treating depression fatigue.

You need to take personal mental breaks when you need them. Know that your needs are essential and prioritise them.

Also, take out time to listen to how you address yourself and the quality of thoughts you have.

The most important relationship you have in this world is the one with yourself, and you must make that relationship healthy.

 Create new hobbies

Hobbies are healthy ways to express your emotions. Drawing, journaling, painting, playing an instrument are healthy and recommended ways of channeling depression.

depression fatigue

Hobbies are not limited to these, and the ones you have are valid. Just ensure that you can express yourself through them.

When you incorporate different self-healing hobbies into your routine, you will quickly alleviate the feeling of depression and fatigue.

Other helpful tips for managing depression fatigue

  • Frequently go out for short walks, especially in nature. The smell of the flowers along the way is refreshing
  • Do what you want if it feels good. If you feel like moving your body a particular way, please do.
  • Always have scented candles in your home, and light them when depression fatigue comes knocking.
  • Give yourself a warm drink; you deserve it.
  • Admire nature and quietly watch and listen to the birds sing.
  • Be spontaneous; go for a picnic or party you never planned for.
  • Research about interesting topics; they will take your mind from the current pain and fatigue.

Treatment options for depression fatigue

Research has it that more than 80% of people with depression get better after undergoing treatment. This includes conventional treatments and therapies.

Though I never tried conventional treatment, they work. But whatever system you choose to pursue to remedy your mind from depression, know that it is worth it.

When dealing with depression fatigue, know that no matter what you do to remedy the fatigue, it may never go away until you deal with a depression problem. So your mind should be targeted at overcoming depression at the end of the day.

The treatment options for depression include


There are many therapies for treating depression, but the most common one is psychotherapy. The others also work in treating depression in different ways. They include

depression fatigue

All these therapies do not work the same for everybody, so you may want to find the one that works for you and stick to it.

At first, therapy may feel like they don’t work, but with patience and commitment, you will reap the benefits.


If you are experiencing severe depression and finding it hard to manage with therapy, consider medication.

For this, you will visit the hospital where the doctor will administer antidepressants. Antidepressants are the most prevalent depression medications today.

However, to ensure that you are safe to use antidepressants, the doctor will find out about your medical history, family history, personal history, and other mental health conditions you may have.

If your doctor finds that you are suitable for antidepressants, they will prescribe and monitor their effects on you for a month.

depression fatigue

Medications work for relieving depression, but even at that, you cannot wholly depend on them. They can have silly side effects like banging headaches, amongst others.

It is wise to try out different management habits and therapies for your everyday life while taking medications. This will quickly bring you to a place of relief faster than medication alone.

When you master the art of managing depression these habits, you may no longer need medications.


People who choose to do something about their depression usually find relief from the symptoms.

While fatigue is one of the commonest symptoms of depression, when treating depression fatigue, you need to target the depression problem itself.

Remember that you are not alone in the struggle, and you can always talk to people for help.

Medical Disclaimer

The information shared on this website is gathered from researches, peer-reviewed studies and real-life observations. We aim to educate and help you live mentally strong and positive. What we share here may be controversial, but we expect you to use your intuition and judgment. Our information does not replace professional medical advice. In fact, we encourage you to seek professional help when you need it.

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