Depression And Loss Of Energy
The common conceptualization of depression centers around mood, around the way it makes you feel – blue, down in the dumps, hopeless, etc. However, feelings are only a piece of the syndrome, certainly an important piece, but there are several other symptoms to take into account.
This article is about the loss of energy. To qualify as a symptom of depression, fatigue or a loss of energy need to occur nearly every day for at least a two week period. This is an important qualifier since varying energy levels are part and parcel of our existence. We all experience fluctuations and there’s no need to panic if your energy level has been low for a few days or even a week.
In the case of depression you feel tired all the time. Even small tasks like getting dressed or taking a shower require a lot of effort. Most of us feel fatigued after putting a lot of work into an activity that demands it, and that’s normal and healthy. This sort of fatigue is obviously different, you can’t trace your low energy to recently having expended all of it on a difficult task. Activities, small and big alike, seem unmanageable.
The symptoms of depression don’t exist in a vacuum, they feed off of each other. The reason we want to point this out is that the physiological reality of low energy is going to play into symptoms like loss of interest in activities you used to find pleasurable, weight loss, oversleeping, and diminished ability to think or concentrate. You need energy to go out there and interact with the world, to eat full meals, to sleep the normal amount without feeling like you need more, and to be able to concentrate.
You’ve got to have gasoline in the car if you want to drive it around. Lots of us don’t necessarily feel like going out to meet friends, or feel like walking to the store to get a nutritious meal, or feel like getting a project done, but we do it anyway, because at the physiological level we’re primed even if at the emotional or psychological level we’re not. But take away that energy and all those activities go from mildly irritating to seemingly impossible.
Therefore if you’re struggling with depression you’ve got to focus in on ways of combating that loss of energy and fatigue, doing whatever you can to help your body’s physiology in order to give you the ability to go out there in the world and do all the things you don’t feel like doing, things that might seem like a hindrance now but actually represent your best hopes of getting better. No one can stay isolated and disconnected from the world for long without getting depressed, but the fail-safe for most of us is that we have the energy to go out there and interact with the world even when we’re not particularly feeling like it. The best and simplest ways to boost your energy levels are through daily exercise, the proper amount of sleep, and a healthy, balanced diet.