Lethargy and fatigue are some normal symptoms for those dealing with depression. Things start to go in slow motion. Your brain starts to process ideas, concepts and solutions at a slower pace. And your body follows suit with isolation and lethargy. You don’t feel like doing anything. Or going anywhere. Or seeing anybody. Home or a bedroom for a person dealing with depression is a safe haven.
In the article The Way Depression Makes You Feel Hopeless, I spoke about sleeping to get away. The bedroom or the home is also a place to get away. To get away and isolate yourself. The only problem with isolation is that the depression can deepen. Your mind can start to replay the old familiar stories in your head that you are worthless, crazy or a loser. Our minds can start filling with negative thoughts if it is not preoccupied with positive thoughts, be it listening to music, reading a book, watching television or playing video games.
I know for myself, I need to have a morning routine, otherwise the rest of the day I could easily fill my head with negative thoughts. So I would start off the day with stretches and breathing for 30 minutes, followed by a hot cup of cafe mocha. Then I would go into our living room, turn on the computer and radio. I would then listen to some uplifting music and play Texas Hold’em on the computer. I would do this for at least an hour until I could face the world, otherwise I would just feel tired and drained all day.
Reduced Pleasure and Enjoyment
As you can probably imagine, pleasure and enjoyment are linked to our energy levels. When you are tired on a Friday night after work, a lot of older people would rather just go home and rest rather than go out. I remember when I was a teenager and into my early 20’s, I could stay up all night, any night of the week. I had a friend that I used to hang out with and we would go to a Blockbuster (I know…I’m dating myself here), rent a couple of movies, grab some snacks and watch them until the sun started to rise.
Then when I hit my 30’s, I lived across the street from this same friend. One night I went over to his townhouse on a Friday and we hung out for a bit. As the clock was approaching 10pm, I got up to say that I was going home as I was mentally and emotionally exhausted from the week. He said, “if you weren’t going to leave soon, I was going to kick you out anyway!” It just shows that as you get older, the body and mind take more time to recover from the work week.
But I’m sure you can think of a time when you were just too tired to do anything? Whether it was to get up to go to the gym before heading out to work, or you were out too late on a Saturday night, that your Sunday visit with your parents wasn’t something you looked forward to? I’m sure there are hundreds of other examples that I haven’t described but that easily come to mind.
Now think of being that tired all the time! Would you want to go hang out with friends? Would you want to go out to the movies? Would you want to go a bar or nightclub?
These are the things people enjoy and find pleasurable. But for the person dealing with depression, mental and emotional exhaustion causes them to shut down. They don’t want to do any of these things, even things they really enjoy.
What can you do about it?
There really isn’t much you can do for your child with depression. This is another crazy sounding idea, but you can try is to encourage them to watch television, play video games, read a book or listen to their favourite music. These activities would at least distract their minds from the depression. Whatever their favourite past time is, see if you can recommend it to them and watch what their response is. If it’s positive, then that can help with the depression. If they are not wanting to do any of the above and just want to sleep, that is normal for a person with depression.
I hope you can understand a little better about what your child may be going through. Why they have a low amount of energy. Why they don’t do the things that used to give them joy or pleasure. It’s not that they don’t want to do these things. It’s just they don’t have the energy or motivation to do them.