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What is the Connection Between Fatigue and Depression?

Article Details
  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Fatigue and depression are connected in several ways. Since depression affects not only the mind, but also the body, depressed people often feel tired much of the time. The emotional impact of depression such as anxiety and lack of motivation can make people suffering from the condition feel exhausted and fatigued.

Many depressed people spend a lot of time just lying in their beds because they not only aren't interested or motivated in going about their usual activities, they may also feel extremely tired. Also, people with depression tend to cry a lot and feel weighed down by emotions such as sadness, anger, guilt and self-loathing. These types of heavy, emotional feelings aren't uplifting or inspirational to the person, but rather have the opposite effect of causing overall fatigue and lethargy. The fatigue and depression can become a chronic state for the depressed person.

Depression and fatigue often share the connection of improper diet. When many people are feeling fatigued, they tend to reach for foods that are not the healthiest but are high in sugar and caffeine to give them quick energy. Studies have shown that the energetic feelings provided by sugar and caffeine are temporary; a sluggishness typically results. Since unhealthier foods are also lacking in nutrients that give the body the energy it needs, poor eating habits only add to fatigue. Depressed people often don't eat correctly; they tend to either consume very little or overeat, which can also make them feel even more tired.

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Lack of sleep is often a feature of both fatigue and depression. Depressed and fatigued people usually have difficulty sleeping on a regular schedule. The disrupted sleep can worsen both conditions. If people who have fatigue and/or depression can get the proper amount and quality of sleep, they usually feel and function much better. There is less chance of napping during the day or of "micro sleeps." Micro sleeps occur when people with poor sleep quality at night close their eyes during the day and almost fall instantly asleep, but usually snap back awake as their head drops.

Studies have shown that the brain chemical serotonin is a significant factor in both depression and fatigue. Serotonin regulates mood and sleep. When serotonin levels are too low, people can become fatigued. In depressed people, serotonin levels are often low; raising the brain chemical is thought to help people sleep better as well as fight depression and fatigue. Eating foods rich in serotonin such as turkey, fish, beef, dark chocolate, eggs, bananas and flax seed may help improve fatigue and depression.

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