Why Am I Tired? On depression and fatigue.


I don’t get it, I don’t do anything and still I’m tired.  When I try to do things I used to do, I get extra tired.  Through my expercience with burnout and depression I developped a whole chart of differences in ‘feeling tired’.  50 shades of tired.


Apperently fatigue goes hand in hand with depression.  Fatigue can have an effect on your body, your emotions and your thinking.  Everything goes very slow, not to be confused with relaxed! That’s a whole different shade!


Fatigue is one of the symptoms of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) as defined in the DSM V[1]. Fatigue can result in apathy or emotional disturbance; diminished focus, trouble finding your words and memory problems in people with MDD.



What are the physical symptoms of fatigue?


Reduced activity. This can be very reduced; doing dishes can be a chore, taking a shower can be a chore, everything you normally are able to do within a certain ‘flow’ can feel like a chore.  Smart as we are, we adapt as humans. No energy to wash your hair? Dry shampoo is your best friend or wear a ponytail or a bun. A bun is always good. Since sneakers are in fashion for a long long time I have a pair. When wearing long trousers, there is no need to shave the whole leg.


Other symptoms are heaviness, slowness or sluggishness, general weakness, low energy and decreased physical endurance. In the good ol’ days I could walk really far. I used my bicycle a lot and all I could do by foot, I would do. At work, I was always on my feet. Now I can clearly feel when the ‘stop’ sign comes in sight. I can’t walk the whole day without taking a rest. To be honest walking the whole day: I can’t imagine that anymore.


Increased effort to do physical tasks. How to explain this one? When I know that I’ll need to go to do groceries, I know I can’t buy all that I want because I can’t carry it all. I could do it but when I cross the limits, the price (in tiredness) is exponential to the effort.


Nonrestorative sleep and sleepiness. I wrote before on depression and insomnia, you can read the posts Why can’t I ‘just’ sleep? Depression and insomnia  and On sleep and what nature has to do with it if you are intereseted.






What are the emotional symptoms of fatigue?


Decreased motivation or initiative. Last week I had a good morning and through this week there were some good moments. Due to this experience I felt a very distinctive difference between my depressed brain and a more ‘normal-to-me’ brain. When depressed you can think about what you are supposed to do but there is no ‘spark’ to actually do it. This week I could take initiative to do something.  Althoug it concerns little things, nontheless they make me happy. A small example would happen on Monday.  Monday evening we are supposed to take the garbage out. I used to think when would be the best time and it felt like a chore because  the garbage can needed to be emptied out. This week, I wanted to take the garbage out because it was the evening to do so. It is the same act, everything is the same but the starting point of that small act came from me. And that makes a world of difference.


Decreased interest, you just don’t have the energy to be on top of everything. My laptop is struggling to survive due to aging, but I can’t be bothered looking for a new one. Sometimes I feel like my laptop is just friendly to my condition and he also needs time to ‘start up’.


Feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes when talking to Pierre I need to cut the conversation of. I can talk about one topic for a while but when the conversations goes from one topic to the other, it can feel very overwelming because I’m still processing what has been said and I can’t jump forward to the next topic. I’m like a cassette: you can rewind, play or forward, but not everything at the same time.



What are the cognitive symptoms of fatigue?


Feeling bored, aversion to effort and feeling low.  Decreased concentration, decreased attention, decreased mental endurance and slow thinking.  This one hits me hard. I remember times I when I started to do research for my blog. I needed to focus really hard to read through one article. Then there was a time I felt better and I just could read it. It made such a big difference. I never realized how your daily life can change due to your working memory running out of space. Maybe an academic article can be too difficult but concentrating on a book becomes hard, even knitting demands some kind of concentration. I have so many scarves with ‘faults’ in them and I know how I felt then. It feels like you ‘zone out’ for a very long zone.




Why is fatigue such good friends with depression?


Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep till morning poses a problem. When asleep the sleepingpattern itself are thrown of their normal schedule. Even when you manage to sleep between 7 or 9 hours, it is quite possible you’ll still be feeling tired.


The second issue is that your body is constantly battling against itself. It’s fighting to stabilise your moods, it’s pushing you to do things that should come easily (getting out of bed, eating, relaxing) but often become a chore when you’re depressed. And for me it is this very battle against yourself that really makes me tired.


The depressed brain tend to think around certain topics, the same topics that relate to your state and another part wants to resolve the problem. Those two go around and around at the same time and really nothing gets solved.


Depression is an energy thief. I feel that it starts in the brain, overthinking everything and being tense all the time. Sad about the past but scared for the future because you feel so helpless. You know you need to be ‘hands on’ but there is no energy nor motivation. Your emotions are dull, you don’t care for things you used to enjoy. You don’t remember who you used to be, there is no connection between the fun and normal me and sick me. You know there is a connection but the bridge seems to be burnt. You feel dull, it creeps up on you to the point you want to sleep to recharge and take a break. The surprise is that you can’t sleep.


“Imagine a time, where you were so busy, so overwhelmed with work, errands, friends, and family that you wanted to walk away or scream or hide. Imagine a time where you were so overworked, so busy, so tired of everything you wanted to go home and sleep.  Imagine this is your life every day for a decade [sic],” explains Neil L Wilson[2].






[2] https://www.health24.com/Medical/Depression/Living-with-depression/depression-why-am-i-always-tired-20180807

[1] https://www.psycom.net/depression-definition-dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria/

Picture credits click here.

27 thoughts on “Why Am I Tired? On depression and fatigue.

  1. Depression is definitely an energy thief and I’ve been feeling like this all week. I have to drag myself to cook and go to work and on top of that I don’t even want to be bothered by anyone other than my boyfriend. The struggle has been real!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I am glad, at least that your interest extends to WordPress 🙂. Even just an interest in something online is a step forward. That’s why the internet is so important, I used Facebook lots, previously.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Yes that is true, I do enjoy blogging 🙂 But 5 posts a week is going to be too much. But what I write about, I believe in. It will all come back when I inflate a bit more 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Yes, quality over quantity every time. I don’t like the messages from WordPress – “you’re on a five-day streak”, or “you received 1000 likes”, or other rubbish, just to encourage people to post any old rubbish.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I agree, I don’t get the streaks either. I wish they would also remove the list that rolls out above the likes (who liked the post before you). I always misclick and end up on some other blog 🙃

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I tend to compartmentalize and think of the various aspects you mentioned as separate entities. I think it’s probably because for me they haven’t fluctuated over time in the same ways at the same times, if that makes any sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I hope I understood your comment well. I think they are all present at the same time more or less but they vary in intensity and some come more in the spotlight at certain times and refuse to leave the stage! I’m trying to understand where it all stems from because I’m so tired of being tired. Thank you for your comment ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I recognize almost everything you talked about. When my depression was at its worst I had to sit down on my bed after taking a shower before I could muster the energy to get dressed. I was so drained from just taking a shower. Sometimes I sleep for 10 hours and wake up feeling exhausted and my brain is foggy for the entire day. I definitely also struggle to concentrate: watching tv or reading an article is sometimes impossible.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly! I try to read blog and to engage but sometimes it’s just impossible. That’s also why I make so many typo’s. In converstation I come across as desinterested but like you said, sometimes a shower can be draining.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m feeling this whole blog post! Everything is a huge effort and I’m exhausted. Waking up in the middle of the night stressed about not getting enough rest. It’s a vicious cycle. Thank you for putting it down ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Fatigue is so very real. When I’ve only done 5-6 minutes of housework, I need to sit or lie down – really! If I don’t, I think I’ll pass out. Everything goes all dark and I feel woozy. I’ve had to get out of the shower so many times otherwise I’d slide to the floor. Blow-drying my hair almost impossible, hence wearing my hair in a ponytail 99.9% of the time. I don’t think people really understand fatigue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I always think it comes across as lazy which I have been called many times while growing up. Now it is really on the fore front, so much in my face that I can’t walk around it anymore. Still I keep fighting with myself over it.
      I’ve had the dark ‘sight’ too, once it was really bad and I was so scared!! Does it happen often to you and it is due to over-stressing mind or body? I told my psychiatrist but he didn’t answer me. Thank you for commenting and making me feel less alone with all those ‘problems’ or ‘side-effects’ Sigh. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I get the darkness several times a day – the only days it doesn’t happen is when I just have a real ‘lazy’ day. I won’t shower (I do brush my teeth) and I stay in pj’s. I have a physical disability too called Transverse Myelitis so that’s the main cause. No worries, you’re never alone on here. C x

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Fatigue is something I struggle with a lot. Recently, it got really bad, to the point where I was, as you say, tired and listless even after sleeping the recommended number of hours. That acute case seemed to subside when I cut back on salt and started paying more attention to hydration, but there are so many triggers for fatigue symptoms.

    I can definitely see how fatigue would tie in to depression, since lack of motivation is key to both. That’s very different from laziness, which I fear people may sometimes confuse with lack of motivation. To me, laziness implies willfully skipping a disliked task in favor of a preferred task. People can put an incredible amount of energy into avoiding certain tasks, sometimes more than it would take to do the original task! That would not be possible with true fatigue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fatigue is difficult to deal with for me because I am so stubborn and I want to do this and that… Very interesting that you’ve discovered different triggers to fatigue like consuming less salt and drinking more. Dehydration can surely make you feel bad and tired. It will also depend on which climate you live in because I have the opposite with salt and fat. 🙂 I try to drink more tea instead of coffee now and I think it helps with sleep.
      Motivation is key and without it you seem lazy on the outside but it’s not at all like that on the inside. I think I’ll need to learn to navigate between my limits and that way the energy can grow very slowly. That is how I feel it, that energy is quickly used up but it takes a longer time to cultivate it. It is a mys(t)ery 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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