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How Depression Affects Your Energy Levels

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Depression is a serious mental health disorder that affects masses of people around the world. While it is typically associated with feelings of sadness, apathy, and low motivation, it can also negatively impact energy levels. Understanding how depression affects liveliness and vigor can give you a fuller understanding of this condition and its impact on a person’s life.

What Is Depression and What Are Its Symptoms?

Depression is a mental health condition that affects a person’s mood and motivation. Most people suffering from depression report intense and sometimes overwhelming feelings of sadness. Other common symptoms include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Concentration issues
  • Low energy levels

Understanding the Link Between Depression and Energy

Low energy and fatigue are two of the most common symptoms reported by individuals suffering from depression. There are several reasons for this, some being biological and others related to behavior.

Depression can affect the brain in a few key ways. In particular, it can disrupt the flow of specific neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which affect a person’s energy levels and cognitive thinking. In addition, many people with depression experience bouts of insomnia. The resulting lack of sleep can reduce your energy levels and leave you feeling chronically exhausted.

In terms of behavior, depression can lead to a vicious cycle that keeps a person from ever feeling energized. For example, you may refrain from doing any physical or mentally stimulating activities as a result of feeling depressed and unmotivated. This stagnation, in turn, will cause you to feel lower energy levels due to never doing anything stimulating.

Depression’s link to energy levels is both strong and multi-faceted. While you may be aware of making poor life choices, depression can still keep you from being able to engage in energy-boosting activities. The compounding effects of negatively impacted brain function, poor sleep, and reduced activity culminate in an experience of low-energy levels in those suffering from depression.

Tips for Raising Energy Levels for Those Suffering from Depression

While low-energy levels can feel like an insurmountable obstacle to those suffering from depression, there are ways to improve the odds. By engaging in some key strategies, those suffering from depression can improve their energy levels and imbue their lives with more vitality.

Here are some tips for raising energy levels for those suffering from depression.

Improve Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is the practice of intentionally cultivating habits that affect quality of sleep. This includes attention to matters such as the environment where you sleep and when you wake and go to bed.

While it may be hard to start, those suffering from depression or burnout can benefit from these practices to ensure adequate rest. Some powerful ways to improve sleep hygiene include:

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
  • Dimming lights and reducing screentime after the sun sets
  • Putting blackout blinds on bedroom windows
  • Ensuring the bedroom is cool at night

Improving sleep incrementally can help you gradually raise your energy levels. Though it may not happen in a single night, practicing consistent sleep hygiene can substantially impact your energy levels over the long term.

Exercise Consistently

Developing an exercise habit is another powerful way to increase energy levels and improve bodily functions. Exercise helps regulate blood flow, sending more blood and oxygen to the brain. This results in improved brain function and greater endurance over time.

For those affected by depression, it can be helpful to start with easier exercise practices. Some approachable ways to begin a consistent exercise routine include:

  • Walking or hiking
  • Riding a bike
  • Rollerblading
  • Swimming
  • Stretching

Eventually, exercising will become less of a mental battle and more of a fun activity that leaves you feeling good. Over time, it also can increase your endurance, make you more alert, and improve energy levels.

Prioritize Nutrition

Food can often be an unexamined way that people lower their energy levels. Many processed foods high in sugar and carbohydrates can leave you feeling groggy and unmotivated—even if you aren’t affected by depression. For those battling depression, however, the negative effects of a poor diet can be exacerbated, leaving them feeling consistently tired.

Thankfully, eating a healthy diet is within reach for anyone who knows the right foods to eat. By prioritizing natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and some meats, and staying away from foods that contain sugar and high levels of carbs, anyone can feel a boost in energy and even a boost in mood. Some healthy food options that can boost your energy levels include:

  • Lentils
  • Avocados
  • Almonds
  • Salmon
  • Bananas

Over time, eating a nutritious diet filled with energy-boosting foods will improve your mood and motivation to keep striving. While consistency may be challenging at first, the positive effects of a healthy diet are worth the effort.

Depression-Related Low Energy Levels Can Be Overcome

While it can seem incredibly difficult for those battling depression, overcoming low-energy levels is possible. By becoming aware of how depression affects your energy, you can be more aware of what is happening in your body. In addition, engaging in some key strategies, such as better sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet, will help you feel more lively and improve your energy levels.


About the Author: Sarah Daren has been a startup consultant in multiple industries, including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life, including her position as a yoga instructor and raising her two children.

Resources to Recover and Our Sponsor Laurel House Celebrate Black History Month

February is Black History Month, a time for celebrating the outstanding achievements of Blacks and African Americans and their central role in US history. It is also a time to recognize the struggles Black people have faced throughout our nation's history and give tribute to the strength and resilience of generations of Black Americans who have risen above adversity.

Black History Month originated from an idea by Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson, who wrote the Journal of Negro History in 1916 to herald the achievements of overlooked African Americans in US history and culture. In 1926 he led an effort by the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASALH) to officially declare the second week of February as "Negro History Week." These dates align with the birthdays of two crucial figures in Black American history: Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809), who signed the Emancipation Proclamation officially ending slavery in the United States, and the Black American abolitionist and author Frederick Douglass (February 14, 1818), who escaped from slavery to become one of the most influential civil and human rights advocates of the 19th century. In 1976, President Gerald Ford gave official governmental recognition to the observance by declaring February "Black History Month."

Without the contributions of Blacks and African Americans to more than 500 years of US history, culture, entertainment and the arts, science, athletics, industry and the economy, public service, and the Armed Forces, we would not be the country we are today.

Photo by Keira Burton: https://www.pexels.com/photo/frustrate-black-man-sitting-near-laptop-and-thinking-6624305/

The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

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