Depression and drainage of energy: a causal relationship from hell
As someone who feels her best when she's at her most productive, I have always been on the losing side in the uphill battle with my regular bouts of sadness. Every time I feel upset, my energy levels drop, which in turn hampers my productivity, and that makes me even more upset. You can see how that spirals into a vicious cycle of seemingly never-ending depression and fatigue.
Until a few weeks ago, my defence mechanism, if we can call it that, was to simply wait my episodes of depression out. Before that, when I had first started experiencing depression during the early years of my adolescence, I would try to force myself to do some work – hobbies, household chores, schoolwork, anything. However, after a few times of achieving barely any progress in the short lists of tasks I would assign myself, I realised my approach to productivity was not going to work. Watching and following the advice of countless TED Talks about productivity, procrastination, and depression didn't work either.
Ultimately, I decided to simply accept my "nature" of going into a mild hibernation every time the blues came around, but recently, a spark of inspiration reignited itself. This time, I decided to start by understanding exactly why sadness robs me and many of my friends of our energy, and knowing that has made some great changes in my life.
To put it simply, depression negatively affects neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These chemicals are responsible for regulating certain markers of happiness like healthy appetite, motivation and of course, energy levels.
Similarly, depression makes us lose out on sound sleep. Either by reducing the hours of sleep we get overall or the depth of our sleep, depression compromises the quality of our sleep, which leaves us feeling less energetic and fresh. This discovery shocked me as I thought I was sleeping perfectly fine until I started noting how I feel after a night's rest when I'm not dealing with my blues. My sleep is indeed lighter when I feel upset.
Brain fog is another symptom of depression and this can make taking even the simplest decisions incomprehensibly hard, draining people before they even get to actually work.
Learning all this helped me navigate my fatigue better. I personally turn to designated hours of self-care every day now. Long showers, journaling, going out in the sun more often – these activities give my mood a boost and that's what I was looking for all along, ways to uplift myself and uproot the main cause of my fatigue, the depression. Instead of treating my fatigue like a cause of my depression, I view it as a symptom and focus more on my depression instead. Taking measures to feel better is what eventually gives me the energy I need to do things I enjoy and need to do.
However, the journey might not necessarily look the same for everyone. Unlike me, some people struggle with depression due to specific instances in their lives and for them, the efforts needed to make themselves feel good can be different – change in sleep routine, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), medicine, exercise, therapy and so on. Whatever the case, the most feasible solution is to dig at the roots of the problem and the best way to do it is to consult a professional for guidance, but the main goal should not be solely greater productivity. It can be a motivator, yes, but the primary concern should always be the quality of your life and well-being because you are worth it.
1. Insider (April 13, 2020). Why depression makes you tired and how to deal with fatigue
2. HuffPost (February 19, 2020). Why Depression Makes You So Damn Tired All the Time
Fabiha is secretly a Lannister noblewoman and a Slytherin alum. Pledge your allegiance and soul to her at [email protected]