12 Habits of People With Depression Fatigue


Living with depression means a lot more than feeling constantly sad. Depression can mean feeling hopeless about the present and the future, feeling guilty about the past, finding yourself dissatisfied with everything you used to love and being unable to see the point in even leaving the house. Through it all, though — often tying each of these strands together — is depression fatigue.

Fatigue in depression makes it difficult to do just about anything. Getting out of bed is exhausting. Staying in bed is exhausting. Showering and cleaning your home is exhausting, but not performing these tasks can leave you feeling even more depressed. It’s a vicious, paradoxical cycle. When living with something this all-encompassing, it’s only natural to develop certain habits in order to deal with the constant fatigue.

That’s why we asked our mental health community for the habits they have developed as a part of depression fatigue. If you’ve ever felt alone in the things depression has made you do because you feel so freaking tired all the time, then read on. We hope you’ll find some reassurance from the rest of The Mighty family that the things you do aren’t “weird” or unheard of, but instead a largely hidden part of a widespread mental illness. And when you’re done, be sure to read our community’s 10 tips for getting through the day when depression makes you exhausted. You’ve got this.

Here’s what our community had to say:

1. Feeling Exhausted by Social Situations

“The constant need to sleep and to not be with other people on my bad days. I find having to be sociable exhausting, even with family at special occasions, and then I have to retreat and rest up.” — Marion P.

“I am constantly canceling plans with friends and rescheduling dates with my partner because I’m just too tired to function or ‘be a person,’ so apologizing has become a regular thing in my life. ‘I’m sorry I’m not different; I’m sorry I’m not better for you; I’m sorry this is how I am.’” — Paige A.

“Canceling plans last-minute because I just don’t have the mental energy. Even if it’s with my closest friends. It’s exhausting to even think about and exhausting to do.” — Gemma W.

2. Sleeping a Lot

“Oversleeping and napping whenever I can. The constant thoughts running through my mind are extremely exhausting. When I oversleep at night, it makes me feel even more tired and groggy the next day, making me want to take a nap or not go to work.” — Heather C.

“Naps at 2 p.m. It does not matter what I’m doing, I always end up having to nap at 2 p.m. every single day. If I don’t get that nap, I get extremely irritable and not so fun to be around.” — Megan D.

“Sleeping constantly and never eating. I have slept for two to three days and eaten next to nothing because I just don’t have the energy and I’m so exhausted.” — Alysha P.

3. Not Folding Clean Laundry

“Leaving my clean laundry on the floor because I have no motivation to fold it and put it away. It’s a lot of work because I have my clothes coordinated specifically in my closet due to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). During those depressive fatigue days, I can’t fathom facing either disorder. It causes a tortuous cycle of both disorders though until I somehow get it done.” — Tiffany C.

“My laundry is dumped on the kitchen table. It’s clean and dry, but the thought of standing there folding heavy towels is too much right now.” — Laura E.

4. Struggling to Clean

“I’m getting used to living in a pigsty. As long as there’s nothing on my bed so I can sleep, I just don’t care about the rest.” — Jocelyn M.

“Having to take a break from cleaning after about five minutes and then feeling like, ‘What is the point?’ Then I nap.” — Glenda W.

“Leaving dishes in the sink. Letting laundry pile up. Sleeping whenever I can for as long as I can. I lose all motivation to do anything and feel physically exhausted. The ‘laziness’ causes so much guilt.” — Jessa P.

“I’ve got into the habit of tidying or cleaning every time I put the kettle on to boil. It’s amazing how much of a difference two minutes of cleaning can make. It makes it more manageable.” — Lucy B.

5. Drinking a Lot of Caffeine

“Drinking copious amounts of caffeine. Even though most of the time it’s short-lived, or just doesn’t help, I’ve become addicted to caffeine to try to help combat the constant fatigue.” — Ashleigh T.

“I have developed an addiction to energy drinks. Sometimes they are the only things that can keep me functional on a normal day.” — Jenny B.

“Drinking unhealthy amounts of coffee to the point of weakening my stomach lining, to the point of unbearable heartburn” — Hannah F.

6. Neglecting Self-Care and Personal Hygiene

“Showering infrequently. It takes so much to get in the shower or bath. I will sponge bathe instead and wash my hair under the faucet.” — Naomi W.

“I’ll skip the shower just to get 20 more minutes of sleep before I go to work. Then, I feel yucky all day and swear I’m going to shower when I get home. Then I just go to bed or sit on the couch all evening.” — Tiffany B.

“Tying my hair up after a shower without brushing or drying. I also stopped plucking my eyebrows and shaving my legs. All of it just requires too much energy I don’t have. I also eat all of my meals in bed.” — Rebecca R.

7. Struggling to Parent

“Letting my 12-year-old son do whatever he wants to do as long as he leaves me alone. Not preparing food for him, so he has to do it himself. I just shut down as a mother and then the guilt is more than exhausting.” — Melissa M.

“Same. I feel so neglectful. The guilt makes my depression worse.” — Julie T.

9. Doing Everything From Bed

“Mustering the strength to take a shower and get back to the comfort of my bed. Then it becomes my workstation, table and reading nook. Being in bed makes you antisocial and less productive. It’s a vicious cycle.” — Sneha V.

“Staying in my dark room, lying on my bed, avoiding everyone and everything, just scrolling through my stupid phone. I could do it endlessly until I faded away.” — Holley U.

“I have a bit of everything on my bed: Snacks, water bottles, medication, notebook and pen. When I can’t get out of bed, at least I have things near me.” — Stella R.

10. Overcommitting

“Committing to more projects than I can handle, because even one day with nothing to do — even if it’s set aside for television and housework — leaves too much room in my head for intrusive thoughts and subsequent depression. Then depression fatigue. And the cycle continues.” — Kim B.

11. Being Impatient and Irritable

“When I’m fatigued due to depression and anxiety, I become extremely impatient with just about everyone, especially those I’m closest to. If I text them, and they don’t reply in what I believe is a timely manner, I start to harass them about it, even if I know they’re likely busy with work. It usually leads them to getting irritated with me and pulling away for a while… which in turn amplifies my fatigue even more. It makes me feel like the worst person ever. It’s a chronic cycle that I know isn’t any good for me or those I’m around, but I just do it anyway.” — Jonathon F.

“I am very irritable and can snap at anything (from zero to 60, real fast).” — Nicole Ö.

12. Constantly Watching Netflix

“Netflix is on but I’m not paying attention. Replaying the same episode because I keep missing the story.” — Andi L.

“Constantly feeling so tired I wanna sleep all the time. I constantly watch ‘Harry Potter,’ but these films stop my thoughts about everything else, so I guess it’s a good thing.” — Shanun B.

“I only watch the same two TV series when I’m by myself. When I finish a series, I either restart it or I might go switch to the other. I know these shows so well that I don’t need to pay much attention to keep up with the storyline. I can fall asleep but still pick right back up where I left off when I wake up. I know I’m going to be too exhausted to pay enough attention to anything else.” — Sydney E.

What would you add?

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


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