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Why Depression Makes You Tired and How to Deal With Fatigue

One of the prevalent symptoms of depression is fatigue, which is a feeling of exhaustion and lack of energy. Fatigue occurs in over 90% of people who experience depression. In this article, we will explore why depression makes you tired all the time and lead to increased sleep and the physiological and psychological factors contributing to this phenomenon, and discuss potential strategies to manage fatigue associated with depression.

Depression Makes You Tired

Fatigue in depression goes beyond normal tiredness. It is a pervasive feeling of weariness that can impact all aspects of life. You may struggle to find the motivation to engage in activities you once enjoyed, further exacerbating your sense of fatigue. The fatigue experienced in depression is not easily relieved by rest or sleep alone.

Sleep Disturbances in Depression

Sleep disturbances are a common feature of depression. Insomnia, characterized by difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep, is often seen in individuals with depression. On the other hand, some individuals experience hypersomnia, which refers to excessive sleepiness and an increased need for sleep. Both insomnia and hypersomnia contribute to the overall tiredness experienced by individuals with depression.

why depression makes you tired and makes you sleep more

Why Depression Makes You Tired

Depression and fatigue are associated in many ways, and depression might directly cause fatigue, but it also has indirect effects on our sleep, diet, and exercise that can drain us of energy. Let's explore some of the ways depression might be causing your fatigue:

1. Sleep disruption

Depression can cause insomnia or oversleeping, both of which can lead to feelings of fatigue. About 80% of people with depression experience insomnia, and oversleeping is also a common symptom of this disorder. Irregular sleep patterns disrupt the body's natural sleep-wake cycle, leading to low energy levels throughout the day. Read more here on → Depression and Sleeping Too Little or Too Much

2. Poor diet

Depression can affect your eating habits, leading to a lack of appetite, skipping meals, or a craving for sugary foods that provide little nutritional value. Consuming large amounts of sugar and fat can make you feel groggy and tired. Nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provide healthy antioxidants and nutrients with energy-boosting effects, but these are the foods we tend to put aside when we're feeling depressed.

3. Reduced exercise

Exercise is a great source of energy, but feelings of depression might make it harder for you to want to work out regularly. Depression can cause a lack of motivation in many aspects of life, including exercise. Negative attitudes like reduced self-esteem and pessimism can interfere with your desire to exercise, making it challenging to summon the motivation to work out.

4. Chronic stress

Depression can increase chronic stress, and stress can lead to depression. Depression-linked stress can cause a loss of energy and exhaustion. An inability to manage stress can play a major role in developing and maintaining depression.

An overactive amygdala, which is the part of the brain associated with anxiety, stress, and fear, creates a cognitive bias toward interpreting the world and the self negatively. These negative feelings associated with depression might be creating overactivity in your brain that's making you feel drained.

5. Reduced motivation

Depression can make it challenging to find pleasure in activities that used to bring joy, leading to a lack of motivation. When you're feeling depressed, it's common to cut back on activities you once enjoyed, leading to a vicious cycle of depression. Reducing pleasurable activities can increase fatigue and lower motivation, making it hard to break the cycle.

6. Depression medication

Some antidepressants can cause significant fatigue as their side effects.

How To Fight Fatigue Due To Depression

Depression is a treatable mental health condition. Between 80% and 90% of people with depression eventually respond well to treatment. Depression fatigue can indeed be challenging to manage, but there are effective treatment options available.

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a popular treatment option for depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), behavioral activation (BA), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and interpersonal therapy (IPT) are all forms of talk therapy that can help people with depression to manage their symptoms.

These therapies work in distinct ways to address the underlying causes of depression and help individuals develop strategies to cope with their feelings.

Medication is another treatment option for people with depression. Antidepressants are mostly prescribed as medications for depression.

Note that medication is not always necessary or appropriate for everyone, and a doctor should assess a variety of factors before prescribing medication.

  Read moreHow To Deal with Depression

Other lifestyle changes can also help people with depression manage their fatigue: To understand better, let's watch a video:

1. Establish a consistent sleep routine

Developing a consistent sleep routine can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle, which in turn reduces fatigue and improves your mood. Try to establish a set bedtime and wake-up time and avoid screens for at least an hour before bed to help prepare your body for sleep. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, especially in the evenings, as they can disrupt your sleep. Read more here How to Sleep Better with Insomnia.

2. Eat a balanced diet

A balanced and nutritious diet increases energy levels that help reduce fatigue Make sure you are getting enough lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals in your diet. Incorporate whole grains, fruits, and vegetables into your diet.  Avoid processed foods, sugary snacks and drinks, and processed foods as they can cause energy crashes and exacerbate feelings of fatigue.

If you're struggling with a lack of appetite, try to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day to keep your energy levels up. Learn more here on → Foods for Fighting depression.

3. Incorporate exercise into your routine

Exercise is highly effective in boosting energy levels. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Regular exercise improves sleep, which in turn helps reduce fatigue.

Even light exercise, such as taking a walk or doing yoga, can be helpful. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. This could include activities like walking, cycling, or swimming. Find here → 11 Great Physical and Mental Exercises for Depression with Benefits.

4. Stay hydrated

Dehydration can contribute to feelings of fatigue, so make sure you're drinking enough water throughout the day. Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day, and limit your intake of sugary drinks and alcohol.

5. Practice Relaxation Techniques

Stress can exacerbate symptoms of depression and fatigue, so managing stress levels is essential for managing fatigue. Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help you manage stress and reduce feelings of fatigue. These techniques can also help improve sleep quality, which can reduce fatigue.

Try incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine, such as taking a few deep breaths before starting a task or practicing a guided meditation before bed. You can also try progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups to help you release tension and promote relaxation.

6. Practice Self-Care

Taking care of yourself is essential for managing depression and fatigue. Engage in activities that you enjoy, such as reading, taking a bath, or spending time in nature. Setting aside time for self-care can help you feel more energized and improve your overall well-being.

7. Socialize and Connect

Depression can be isolating, which can make fatigue worse. Socializing and connecting with others can help reduce feelings of loneliness and improve your mood. Try to connect with friends and family members, join a support group, or engage in activities that you enjoy.


Fatigue is a very much common symptom of depression. It can be a vicious cycle – feeling tired all the time can make it difficult to get motivated to do things, and that lack of motivation can further contribute to feelings of depression. Depression and depression-related fatigue can be challenging to manage, but it's not impossible. Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, practice relaxation techniques, seek social support, and consider therapy or medication if necessary.


Is fatigue always a sign of depression?

Fatigue can be caused by various factors, including medical conditions or lifestyle factors. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Does sleep help with depression-related fatigue?

Sleep is essential for overall well-being, but excessive sleep or oversleeping can sometimes worsen fatigue in individuals with depression. Striking a balance and maintaining healthy sleep patterns is crucial.

Can depression cause insomnia instead of excessive sleepiness?

While excessive sleepiness is a common symptom of depression, some individuals may experience insomnia or difficulty falling asleep instead.

Can medication help alleviate depression-related fatigue?

Antidepressant medications may help improve energy levels and reduce fatigue in some individuals with depression. These medications work to rebalance neurotransmitters in the brain, potentially alleviating fatigue symptoms. However, the effectiveness can vary, and it's important to work closely with a healthcare professional.

Are there any natural remedies for depression-related fatigue?

While natural remedies may provide some relief, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options. Natural remedies such as exercise, meditation, and a balanced diet can complement professional care.

How long does depression-related fatigue last?

The duration of depression-related fatigue varies from person to person. It can last for a few weeks, months, or even longer. Seeking professional help is crucial for understanding the underlying causes and developing an appropriate treatment plan.


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