If you suffer from depression, you probably deal with fatigue quite often. Depression can make it difficult to do daily chores and take care of responsibilities due to the constant onslaught of negative thoughts coupled with feelings of helplessness and despair. When dealing with this challenge, though, try to remember that millions of other people deal with the same thoughts and feelings.

Depression remains the leading cause of disability worldwide and affects more than 300 million people globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

While depression sufferers deal with a myriad of symptoms, people with depression report feeling tired all the time. They also comment that this greatly hinders their ability to function. Fatigue affects over 90% of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), according to a study published in the journal CNS Drugs. Causes of fatigue due to this disorder can vary and include things such as stress levels, diet, sleep quality, medications taken, and lack of exercise.

Below, we’ll go more in-depth on what exactly causes people with depression to feel so tired. Hopefully, we can provide a solution that will suit your needs.

Scientists Explain Why Depression Makes People Feel Tired

Here are some of the factors that compound depression, anxiety, and overwhelming feelings of stress for so many people.


It’s no secret that people with depression usually react more strongly to stress. This, in turn, worsens their symptoms. According to research, people with depression tend to have higher levels of cortisol and lower levels of feel-good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine.

Trying to function in our increasingly stressful world while dealing with a mental disorder can feel downright exhausting, so if you feel burnt out, remember to take time for yourself. Practice deep breathing exercises and incorporate physical exercise and positive thinking into your routine as well.


Diet plays a huge role in mental health. In general, eating whole foods such as meats, dairy, grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables and reducing or eliminating processed foods can decrease symptoms of depression. Our whole bodies, including our brains, need certain nutrients to function properly. Without them, our health suffers. Try changing up your diet to see if that alleviates your fatigue.

Sleep Quality

In general, people with depression usually have a harder time falling, and staying, asleep than those without mental disorders. Even if a person gets the required amount of sleep for their age, they might not feel rested when they wake up. This is due to a lack of quality sleep. Depression makes it much harder to fall asleep. Sufferers might lie awake for hours before finally dozing off. Also, they may wake up numerous times throughout the night, or wake up too early and not be able to fall back asleep. Furthermore, REM and deep sleep do not occur as often for depressed people compared to those without depression. Research shows that many people with depression have co-occurring insomnia or hypersomnia.

If you suffer from sleep problems, try not to use technology a couple of hours before bed. Also, create a relaxing environment before sleep and exercise early in the day rather than in the evening.


Some medicines have been shown to increase fatigue in depressed patients. According to Dr. Maurizio Fava MD, Slater Family Professor of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs and SNRIs have been associated with higher rates of fatigue in those with depression. If you think your sleepiness is due to your medication, consult your doctor about alternatives.

Lack of Exercise

Those with depression may not exercise enough, if at all. It’s a vicious cycle, because exercise will initially make you more tired until your body gets used to it, but you need exercise to function properly. However, depression makes it difficult to perform necessary daily tasks, which means exercise usually takes a backseat to other aspects of survival. Even though it might feel hard at first, exercise offers many benefits including better sleep, improved mood, more energy, etc. Lack of exercise can cause depression, so make sure to incorporate at least 20 minutes of low to moderate intensity exercise per day.

6 Tweets That Perfectly Sum Up What It’s Like to Live With Depression

Now that you know how and why depression makes people feel tired, let’s build some empathy.  Here are some Twitter users–both counselors and those who live with mental illness–who reveal their thoughts about depression

Know that you are not alone in this fight.

Feeling alone can make you feel overwhelmed and cause exhaustion. The chances are good that you know others who suffer in silence.

Some people feel weighed down.

This Twitter user shared a pictorial representation to explain her on-and-off-again struggles.

Celebrities also battle depression.

This Tweet is a reminder of some who lost their fight. Mental illness touches millions of people regardless of their wealth or status.

Show empathy and compassion for people with depression.

Telling someone to “buck up” or “this will pass” minimizes the internal pain that they live with every day.

Many people put on a brave face instead of explaining how they feel.

This Twitter user describes how many who struggle with mental illness hide their pain from the world.

It is okay to ask for help.

Someone cannot beat their depression until they get the help. Hiding symptoms is not the same as treatment.

Final Thoughts:


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