How Depression Saps Your Energy and Disrupts Sleep

Depression is an often-misunderstood mental health disorder. It is frequently associated with “feeling down” or a persistent sadness, but depression is much more than that. While melancholy and sadness are characteristics of depression, the disorder has a profound effect on multiple body systems, affecting emotional well-being, concentration, and energy levels.

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Among the lesser-known consequences of depression, sleep disturbances and corresponding lack of energy are significant and often underestimated symptoms. In the United States alone, 16 million people grapple with depression, and a staggering 75% of them experience some form of sleep disorder. [Source]

The Vicious Cycle:

Depression and sleep disorders form a negative symbiotic relationship, creating a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break. Individuals facing sleep issues are ten times more likely to develop depression, while those already battling depression find themselves at a heightened risk of developing sleep issues. Depression has been directly linked to sleep disorders such as insomnia, hypersomnia, and obstructive sleep apnea.

How Depression Affects Sleep

Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. Insomnia causes a lack of energy by preventing you from receiving the required amount of needed sleep. Insomnia increases feelings of fatigue and a persistent lack of energy. Over time, insomnia can also cause despair and hopelessness due to a chronic lack of needed rest.

Hypersomnia is the persistent urge to sleep, especially associated with daytime sleepiness. Those with hypersomnia may struggle to stay awake throughout the day, negatively affecting their work, school, or family relationships. The constant urge to sleep and struggle against falling asleep at inappropriate times further drains energy levels and increases the overall perceived fatigue.

Obstructive sleep apnea causes snorting, gasping and pauses in breathing during sleep, interrupting sleep multiple times during the night. The disrupted sleep patterns caused by sleep apnea can intensify depressive symptoms, leading to a cycle of worsening mental health which leads to increasingly worse sleeping patterns.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found a clinically significant association between sleep apnea and depression.

“Snorting, gasping or stopping breathing while asleep was associated with nearly all depression symptoms, including feeling hopeless and feeling like a failure,” said Anne G. Wheaton, PhD, lead author of the study. “We expected persons with sleep-disordered breathing to report trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, or feeling tired and having little energy, but not the other symptoms [characteristic of depression].” [Source]

How Depression Makes You Tired

While the association between depression and sleep issues is well-established, the exact mechanism by which depression impacts sleep is still being researched. The most probable theories for how depression causes lack of sleep include:

Neurotransmitter Imbalance. Depression disrupts neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters play a crucial role in regulating mood, energy, and sleep-wake cycles. An imbalance can lead to symptoms of both depression and sleep disturbances.

Disrupted Circadian Rhythms. Depression can impact the body’s internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm. This rhythm regulates the sleep-wake cycle and other physiological processes. A disruption in the circadian rhythm can cause insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep) or hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness), which are both linked to depression.

Hyperarousal. Individuals with depression often experience hyperarousal, a state of increased physiological and psychological activity. This heightened arousal, often characterized by persistent negative thoughts, can prevent you from being able to relax and fall asleep. Racing thoughts and worries can keep the mind active during the night, interrupting sleep and contributing to insomnia.

Lack of Physical Activity. In a cruel vicious cycle, depression saps your energy and makes you less inclined to engage in physical activity. Yet regular physical activity is closely linked to better sleep quality. By avoiding physical activity due to lack of energy, you feed back into the negative loop and further reduce your energy levels.

Medication Side Effects. In another cruel twist, some medications used to treat depression have side effects that may affect sleep patterns. For example, certain antidepressants can cause insomnia or drowsiness, influencing energy levels and overall well-being.

Breaking the Cycle and Getting Your Energy Back:

When you are tired all the time it prevents you from living a full life. You miss out on activities with family and friends, you’re not fully present at work, and lack the energy to engage in hobbies or exercise.

The good news is that addressing and treating depression can directly improve sleep quality. Multiple, effective treatment options are available. However, for those who have undergone traditional treatments (such as antidepressants or therapy) without significant improvement in depression or energy levels, other depression treatment options may be necessary to achieve remission from depression and improved energy.

Treating Depression with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a newer depression treatment with high success rates of patient response and remission. Unlike treatments that address the symptoms of depression, TMS works by delivering magnetic pulses to specific areas of the brain associated with mood control. These magnetic pulses induce a stimulus/response mechanism, stimulating the brain to generate new, healthy neural pathways.

Patients who receive TMS treatment often report increased energy levels along with a decrease in depression. By stimulating brain activity, TMS creates a beneficial effect across multiple areas impacted by depression, including mood, cognitive ability, motivation, and energy.

TMS treatment is particularly well-suited to those who have been diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression or have tried multiple treatment options without success. If you have struggled with depression, lack of energy, constant fatigue, and general tiredness, TMS therapy may provide you with renewed energy and reduced depression levels.

TMS Treatment in Fort Collins

TMS treatment is available in Fort Collins at Brighter Day Psychiatry, the only clinic the Fort Collins area offering Brainsway Deep TMS treatment – a newer form of TMS that uses an improved design and method to achieve higher success rates with TMS.

If you are struggling with low energy, fatigue, and lack of sleep associated with depression, please call us today. We can provide a free phone consultation to see if TMS may be the right treatment for you.