As we often talk about at The Depression Project, there is a major, major difference between "normal tiredness" and "depression tiredness" (also known as "depression fatigue" or "depression exhaustion"). On that note, in this blog post, we'd like to share with you:
- Quotes about what "depression tiredness" feels like from members of The Depression Project's community;
- The reasons why depression can make you feel so tired;
- The ways that "depression tiredness" can impact you mentally, emotionally and behaviourally;
- Links to resources that can help you cope with "depression tiredness", and make it easier for you to function when you're feeling weighed down by it.
Are you ready?
Quotes About What "Depression Tiredness" Feels Like
- "I always say that 'depression tiredness' is like this: 'if my house was burning down, I would be too tired to get out of bed and save myself'. It is absolute, total exhaustion ... both physically and mentally."
- "Complete exhaustion. No showers, no meals, no grooming of any kind. Everything seems like lifting furniture. Even something as small as answering the phone."
- "You can barely sit up when the alarm goes off! You get up, get dressed, and then have to lie back down again! Every chore you do you have to take breaks. You’re filled with heavy sadness and it’s a struggle to keep your eyes open. You have no joy and only look forward to sleep, sleep and more sleep."
- "I just slept 14 hours, am still tired and now I feel guilty."
- "I have a phone call that could easily cut my internet bill in half that I’ve been putting off for months because I’m so damn tired."
- "Feeling tired no matter how much sleep you get. You can get the regular amount of sleep but still fall back asleep even after drinking caffeine. You constantly feel tired even though you are not doing anything."
- "Being overwhelmed by the simplest of things, physically and mentally exhausted and fatigued, tired of life and living, and tired of life's challenges to the point that the thoughts of the cessation of your life and/or ending it bring you much comfort and peace."
- "Constant exhaustion. Not wanting to get out of bed or do anything. No enjoyment from things that used to bring you joy. Lack of self-care. Not wanting to be around anyone."
- "Really wishing you had something to look forward to or do and realising that even if you did, you probably wouldn't do it."
- "It's mind-numbing boredom, but having literally no energy or wherewithal to do anything about it."
- "A constant state of inertia. I have to force/push my physical body to do what needs to be done."
- "It's like you are running on an empty tank. Like you are trying to swim to the surface but are chained to a heavy anchor. Like running through a dark tunnel and the light is always miles ahead. It's constant exhaustion."
- "Wanting to do everything you need to do but having no energy to do so. You play this back and forth game where you contemplate doing something. By the time you make up your mind you can’t do it because you have to pick up the kids, feed and bathe them. Next day comes and you either have the same battle or you end up forcing yourself to get something done."
- "It's like there's a whole world out there full of people having fun enjoying life and you can't possibly think of anything you would like to do! So, you just go back to sleep!"
- "I am not able to get out of bed, and so often end up staying in pajamas all day. My body feels weighed down, and the simplest tasks take the longest time to get done. I've slept all day before and then slept 15 hours at bedtime all in the same day. It's hard explaining to people who don't struggle with depression that it's not laziness but exhaustion from despair."
- "Not being able to do anything … and no amount of sleep or rest cures it."
- "A fatigue that people don’t see or understand. Caffeine and sleep don’t help. You’re always mentally drained and exhausted, particularly from social events (in my personal opinion). I can fall asleep anywhere and anytime if I try."
- "Being drained of all desire to do anything."
- "Like darkness is all around you and you can’t even face talking to anybody or even washing up or hoovering. You feel completely empty."
- "Pure mental exhaustion and not being able to handle thinking about anything more than what's absolutely necessary and being so mentally tired, wanting to sleep instead of thinking about one more thing."
- "Sleep, food, and hydration does not elevate one from the oppressive fatigue like it would for someone not in depression."
- "Not getting up from my bed because I feel tired from doing nothing at all and just thinking."
- "I'm constantly thinking to myself 'you need to do this, you should do that, why don't you just go and do it' - but then I don't do anything because it's so overwhelming that I just want to sleep to escape."
- "It weighs a thousand pounds. All I would want to do was cry. You don't answer the phone. You don't answer the door. When you absolutely 'have' to interact, you paste a smile on to make people think you are fine. But inside you are screaming: 'just leave me the f*** alone'. That was me all last fall/winter. It was hell. And an everyday struggle."
Why Can Depression Make You So Tired?
As the above quotes highlight:
- Fatigue is a common symptom of depression1;
- The complete, utter and debilitating exhaustion that's associated with depression and is very, very different from "normal tiredness".
And, there are many reasons why this is the case. In particular, some of the reasons why depression can make you feel so tired are because, according to members of The Depression Project's community:
- Firstly, trying to go about your day while being burdened by negative thoughts, misery, overwhelm, feelings of worthlessness, feelings of hopelessness, shame, and all the other symptoms of depression can be absolutely exhausting.
- When you're in a depressive episode, you often can't see any hope for the future1 - which can result in you feeling unmotivated and devoid of energy.
- Depression makes it hard for you to do "energy-boosting activities" - such as going for a run for instance, or doing other activities that you know will give you a boost.
- Depression can significantly disrupt your sleep1, because it's really hard to fall asleep when you're being bombarded with intrusive-, worrying- and negative thoughts. Additionally, any triggering incidents or experiences that are fuelling your depression may also contribute to you having nightmares as well2.
- Exhaustion is a common side-effect of anti-depressant medication3.
- As noted in the above quotes about "depression tiredness", it is not something that sleep will fix.
The Ways That "Depression Tiredness" Can Impact You Mentally, Emotionally And Behaviourally
As was also noted in the above quotes about "depression tiredness", it doesn't just affect you physically. Unfortunately, "depression fatigue" also affects you in a number of other debilitating ways as well, including, according to members of The Depression Project's community:
Mentally - by, for example:
- Causing you to have negative thoughts like "I'm a failure", "I'm lazy" or "I'm worthless" - which can often be triggered because "depression tiredness" makes it really difficult for you to function as well as other people function, and as well as you would otherwise function if you weren't "depression tired".
- Making it difficult for you to concentrate.
- Making it much harder for you to process things that would otherwise be easy for you.
- Causing memory difficulties.
Emotionally - by, for example:
- Causing you to feel unmotivated to do the things that you would otherwise want to do.
- Making you feel numb, since when you're "depression tired", it can become extremely difficult to engage with the world around you.
- Making you feel ashamed and frustrated with yourself, since like we've said, when you're "depression fatigued", your ability to function is significantly compromised.
Behaviourally - by, for example:
- Causing you to socially withdraw, due to being too tired and/or unmotivated to leave the house.
- Leading you to engage in negative coping strategies which don't require much energy (such as watching television in bed all day); while at the same time leading you to forego taking the action you need to take in order to overcome depression (such as going to therapy, for example).
- Drastically decreasing your ability to function - including making it extremely difficult for you to do the "little things" like attending to your chores and/or showering, for example.
How To Cope With "Depression Tiredness" And Make It Easier To Function When You're Feeling "Depression Tired"
If you struggle with "depression tiredness", then:
- Firstly, please know that you are not alone - since as the quotes we shared with you about "depression tiredness" show, it's extremely, extremely common to feel this way when you're deep in a depressive episode.
- Secondly, please try your best not to shame or criticise yourself for struggling to function as well as you otherwise would if you weren't feeling so "depression tired". After all, given everything you're going through, overwhelming fatigue and exhaustion is extremely natural and understandable - so always try to be self-compassionate and your own best friend. To learn a variety of strategies to help you do this, we encourage you to read another blog post we wrote titled The Biggest Causes Of "Depression Shame" And How To Overcome Them.
- Believe it or not, there are a wide variety of strategies you can implement to cope with "depression tiredness", and make it easier for you to function when you're feeling "depression tired". On that note, we think you'll find the following cognitive behavioural therapy-based journals that we've created particularly helpful:
FAQ: "If I'm constantly feeling "depression tired", then would making changes to my anti-depressant medication help?"
Like we've mentioned, anti-depressant medication can, in some cases, contribute to you feeling tired - particularly in the weeks after you've just started taking it3. However, to get an accurate answer to this question that's specific to you, please reach out to the medical practitioner who prescribed your medication, as they'll be in the best position to advise on what to do - whether that be, for example:
- Approving you taking your anti-depressant medication at night instead of the morning, so that you aren't so "depression tired" throughout the day;
- Altering the dosage of your anti-depressant medication, or changing anti-depressant medications all together;
- Keeping things the way that they are for now, and monitoring your energy levels moving forwards to see if they improve.
Key Takeaways When It Comes To "Depression Tiredness"
In this blog post, we've covered quite a lot of ground concerning "depression tiredness". And, before we bring it to a close, we'd just like to reiterate three of the most important points that we have covered:
- "Depression tiredness" is a very, very common symptom of depression.
- Because, among other reasons, "depression tiredness" is a very common symptom of depression, it's also extremely common to find it difficult to function when you have depression - including doing the "little things" like doing your chores, taking care of your personal hygiene and getting out of bed, for example. And, none of this is anything to be ashamed of.
- There are steps you can take and strategies you can implement to make it easier to function when you're feeling "depression tired".
From the bottom of our hearts, we really hope that you've found this blog post about "depression tiredness" helpful.
All our love,
The Depression Project Team.
Akkaoui, M. A., Lejoyeux, M., D'Ortho, M. P., & Geoffroy, P. A. (2020). Nightmares In Patients With Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, And Psychotic Disorders: A Systematic Review. Journal Of Clinical Medicine, 9(12), 3990.