Here’s one of those vicious cycles in mental health that many doctors and patients are aware of, but can be difficult to treat. That is the cycle of depression and fatigue. Fatigue is one of the most common signs of depression. Constant fatigue can lead to depression and for those living with chronic depression, the fatigue that accompanies the condition can be a hurdle not easily overcome.
Fatigue affects over 90% of those diagnosed with major depressive disorder, according to a 2018 report.
What are the Differences Between Fatigue and Depression?
While depression and fatigue often go hand-in-hand, they are two distinctly different conditions. Fatigue is generally defined as being overwhelmingly tired, along with having a lack of motivation, reduced energy, and physical or emotional exhaustion. If that sounds a lot like depression to you, you’re not alone.
However, depression can come with other symptoms not seen in general fatigue. These symptoms include a change in appetite – some people begin eating more, others begin eating less. Anxiety is another symptom common in people with depressive disorders.
Treating Depression and Fatigue
The key here is to get to the underlying issue causing the condition. Visiting a doctor is a must to rule out conditions which can cause fatigue. Your doctor will run a few simple tests and will also likely screen you for depression. Therapy and counseling can aid in treating depression. Sometimes, your doctor will recommend prescription medication, however, if you are suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, this can make symptoms worse.
Sometimes, beating the fatigue can help you cycle out of the depression. Read on for some tips to help you beat the fatigue that is accompanying your depression.
1. Practice Good Sleep Habits
Set a bedtime and a wake-up time and stick to it. Try and make it the same time each day. Try and make sure that you set aside at least 8 hours for continuous sleep. For example, go to bed each night at 11 p.m. and wake up at 7 a.m.
2. Try Cannabis
Cannabis has been used to treat depression for millennia. THC in low doses can help produce serotonin, but high doses may exacerbate the problem. Try microdosing with your vape pen or dry herb vaporizer – that is, take in a small amount, just enough to relieve your symptoms, and repeat as needed.
3. Try Yoga
People often say that exercise can help with depression and fatigue. However, that molehill can seem like a mountain when you suffer from depression. According to Boston University, the deep breathing aspect of yoga can help ease depression. Researchers recommend attending two classes a week along with practicing at home.
4. Avoid Caffeine After 2 PM
Drinking caffeinated beverages may work well for getting you up and getting you going, but drinking coffees, caffeinated teas, and colas too close to bedtime can actually keep you awake. Consider switching to decaffeinated beverages in the afternoons or switch to water.
5. Talk with Your Doctor About Possible Vitamin Deficiencies
Not having enough essential vitamins and minerals in your system can contribute to fatigue. Talk to your doctor about seeing if you are possibly experiencing a deficiency such as having too little vitamin B, magnesium, or iron. Your doctor may recommend supplements or making changes in diet that can give you the nutrients you need.
6. Drink Herbal Teas
Herbal teas play an essential role in overcoming depression, helps to sleep faster and better. When you feel tired or have headaches and suffer from depression, the best way to relieve your stress and anxiety is having a relaxing cup of herbal tea.
7. Change Your Diet
Your diet can be a major contributor to the fatigue you feel. Sugary foods can lead to a crash after eating. Try to aim to eat nutrient-rich meals and snacks every 2-3 hours. Foods that provide protein and complex, rather than simple, carbohydrates are essential.
Dealing with both fatigue and depression can be a struggle, but these are some ways to help you cope. Remember to always seek the advice of a medical professional before taking medications, supplements, or entering a diet or exercise program.