Fatigue, like stress and affluence, has become a default state for many people. The sensation, characterized by extreme fatigue and low energy, usually occurs after an exhausting experience, mentally, emotionally or physically. (Think: intense work trip or illness.)
But it is not always temporary or circumstantial. Fatigue can also be a symptom of a more serious problem, such as depression. In reality, fatigue occurs in more than 90% of people with mental disorders, according to 2018 data. (Other signs of depression include low mood, withdrawal and concentration problems.)
For one person to suffer from depression, not just general fatigue, "many of these symptoms must be present almost daily, for at least two weeks," said Don Mordecai, psychiatrist and national health leader. mental. well-being at Kaiser Permanente.
Part of the reason why depression and debilitating fatigue go together is because "depression affects the neurotransmitters associated with alertness and the reward system, "said Mordecai. This means that the disease has a physiological impact on your energy level.
Another reason is that depression negatively affects sleep"It's hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, get up too early or not sleep so deeply," said Sari Chait, a Massachusetts-based clinical psychologist.
Depression also weighs heavily on motivation, making it physically and emotionally draining to perform simple tasks, said Chait. Dressing for work, doing grocery shopping or saying hello to colleagues can be a feat for a depressed person. In addition, depression can cause brain fog, Chait added. Thus, a depressed person has to spend even more energy to make decisions or focus on his work.
The relationship between depression and fatigue can then become cyclical. "Depressed people who are hurrying to spend their day can, in turn, feel more tired, which can make them even more depressed and the cycle continues," said Chait.
"Depressed people who manage to spend the day may feel more tired, which can make them even more depressed and the cycle continues."
– Sari Chait, Clinical Psychologist
It is important to remember that fatigue is "more likely to be a possible symptom of depression rather than a cause," said Mordecai. However, being tired regularly due to chronic stress, chronic illness or a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or insomnia can make you more susceptible to depression.
"If a person is constantly tired for any reason, they will probably find it difficult to fully engage in their life," said Chait. This could lead to less socialization, decreased concentration at work, changes in appetite or exercise routine, she added.
That is why it is essential to take steps to improve your general well-being, whether you are extremely tired of depression or simply tired.
"If a person is constantly tired for any reason, they will probably find it difficult to engage fully in their life."
To do this, first try to identify the root cause of your fatigue, said Chait. Make an inventory of your habits, your routine and your recent state of mind. If you can link your fatigue to a specific problem – such as stress, lack of sleep or illness – try to start changing your lifestyle.
The most critical setting is sleep. Most adults need at least seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night, said Mordecai. To rest, try to avoid caffeine after noon and limit your consumption of alcohol before bed, he advised. It's also a good idea to put away the technology before going to bed, because the blue light of smartphones can inhibit the production of melatonin and makes it more difficult to fall asleep.
Then, examine your workload and your schedule. If you feel stressed or exhausted, "try to set limits and make changes to make sure you do not stretch out too much," said Chait. This could include saying no to social obligations and hard work projects, or starting a weekly personal care practice.
Finally, be sure to exercise several times a week. It may seem counterintuitive when you're tired, but "regular physical activity can ultimately lead to an increase in energy levels"Said Chait.
If you change your sleep, work and exercise habits and still feel exhausted after two weeks, you should consider calling in a professional to determine if it's all right. from a depression and start a treatment, said Chait.
For some people, lifestyle habits, such as aerobic exercise and sleep, can help alleviate the symptoms of depression, said Mordecai. But many other people may need a combination of treatments – such as speech therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications – in addition to these lifestyle changes. And it's more than correct. Do not forget that it takes time to start seeing positive results and that you may need to experiment with various options.
"Working with your family doctor or a mental health professional can help you choose a treatment that's right for you," said Mordecai.
"Living with" is a guide to navigating the conditions that affect your mind and body. Each month, HuffPost Life will tackle real problems by offering different stories, tips and opportunities to connect with people who understand what it is. In February, we cover the depression. Do you have an experience to share? Email [email protected]
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 to get the national number. Life line of suicide prevention. You can also send a free text message HOME at 741-741, 24-hour support via Crisis Text Line. Outside the United States, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database Resource.