Life in the 21st Century can feel quite unforgiving, and many people succumb to feelings of sadness, helplessness, and depression. When this happens, you’ll likely struggle for mental and physical energy.
One possible explanation for this is that you’re not sleeping enough or aren’t getting quality sleep. If you’ve ever wondered how being tired affects your emotions, the Journal of Affective Disorders explains that insomnia is often linked directly to depression.
Naturally, there’s a difference between clinical depression and feeling down. You may be experiencing feelings of sadness because you’re tired. A single night of restful sleep will usually resolve the concern in this instance, and you’ll awaken feeling considerably better.
However, if you have depression, regular feelings of exhaustion will invariably accompany your low mood. CNS Drugs stated that 90% of people with depression experience chronic fatigue.
The more exhausted you feel the more your mood will deteriorate. Equally, the sadder you become, the less inclined you’ll be to do anything but sleep. Understanding depression and fatigue and how they’re linked is the first step to overcoming both ailments.
Why Do I Feel Tired When I’m Sad?
If you’re prone to feelings of sadness and exhaustion alike, consider making an appointment with a healthcare professional.
As explained by the Journal of Thyroid Research, an imbalance of T3 and T4 hormones released by the thyroid gland can lead to symptoms of depression and fatigue. Equally, the problem could be due to a lack of quality sleep.
Our brains release less serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine when we’re tired. These neurotransmitters flood our bodies with feelings of happiness, so their absence makes us feel sad. Equally, the same neurotransmitters provide us with energy. It stands to reason that we’ll feel sleepy when they’re in short supply.
Having established that substandard sleep is linked to depression, the solution appears simple on paper. If you’re feeling low, sleeping well is the answer. Unfortunately, as per Sleep Science, depression is often linked to sleep disturbance.
People with depression may struggle to fall asleep at night, no matter how tired they feel. If the individual does manage to doze off, broken sleep is also common among people with depression.
Typically, somebody with depression will also spend more of their sleep cycle in REM sleep than any other stage. This explains why people with depression and anxiety often have nightmares. Equally, the lack of deep, slow-wave sleep gives the body and brain limited time to recuperate from a day’s efforts.
Failing to sleep well when you have depression creates a vicious cycle. According to The Lancet, insomnia can lead to already-fragile mental health deterioration, with hallucinations and paranoia commonly observed.
Gaining Quality Sleep when Depressed
It’s more important than ever that you stick to a strict sleep schedule. Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done. There are a handful of techniques to maintain better sleep, though.
The first is to practice sleep hygiene. No matter how you’re feeling, retire to bed and wake at the same time each night and morning. The stricter the routine you practice, the easier this will eventually become.
You should abide by the standard rules of good sleep hygiene. Avoid screens at night, for at least an hour before bed. Preventive Medicine Reports connect screen time to depression, so this is always sound advice.
Work on the layout of your bedroom, attempting to balance the energy flow. For example, did you know that sleeping beside a mirror is inadvisable? Try to park any cynicism you may hold about the effectiveness of feng shui and maintain an open mind.
Steer clear of artificial stimulants such as caffeine or additional depressants like alcohol. These chemicals can already play havoc with a healthy sleep pattern. If you have depression, the concern will be magnified.
Perhaps the toughest task of all is to avoid napping during the day. As established, depression makes us sleepy. This means you may want to doze in the morning, afternoon – or all day.
Resist this temptation, as it’ll make it harder to sleep at night.
Depression and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
If you’re struggling to sleep, you may end up with a diagnosis of depression. This will render you exhausted, so you’ll need to be careful not to find yourself trapped in a loop of sadness-inspired insomnia and inappropriate sleep hygiene.
Before assuming that your low mood is connected to depression, consider whether you may have myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue syndrome). Clinical depression and chronic fatigue syndrome appear to have identical symptoms on the surface.
In reality, there’s a fundamental difference between these two concerns. Depression, as explained by Psychology and Health, drains motivation. Chronic fatigue syndrome means that the spirit remains willing, but you lack the energy to act upon it.
Imagine that you’re a keen cyclist. Exercise is vital to managing low mood, as it releases endorphins and floods the body with energizing dopamine. If depressed, you’ll likely have no desire to cycle. If fatigued, you’ll crave exercise but find yourself too weak to indulge.
There’s no direct test for chronic fatigue syndrome, so a diagnosis will be an educated guess from a healthcare professional based on the symptoms you describe.
Often, this condition will be connected to another non-clinical concern; emotional exhaustion.
Emotional exhaustion arises when we reach physical and mental breaking point, usually after a prolonged period of stress or unhappiness. The outcome will be a lack of physical energy and sluggish cognitive function.
The core difference between emotional exhaustion and depression is that the latter needs to be formally diagnosed by a healthcare professional.
Emotional exhaustion is more akin to workplace burnout – it’s widely acknowledged as a problem but not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Common explanations for emotional exhaustion include:
- Loneliness and lack of social contact.
- Lack of sounding board or reassurance for negative feelings or emotions.
- Constant caregiving toward another, neglecting self-care in the process. This could include parenting, especially for somebody that lacks assistance and support.
- Deep-rooted unhappiness and lack of satisfaction in a job or interpersonal relationship.
- Feeling that your life is spiraling out of control.
- Grief that’s caused by bereavement or the termination of a romantic relationship.
- Chronic pain that’s due to a medical condition.
- Long working hours, especially in a high-stress environment.
These circumstances can leave us feeling sad and helpless, which leads to emotional exhaustion.
As the answer to the question “can being emotional make you tired?” is yes, it’s clear why emotional exhaustion is concerning. It’s vital to manage emotional exhaustion before it leads to chronic fatigue and associated depression.
Symptoms of Emotional Exhaustion
The symptoms of emotional exhaustion are many and varied, but all can negatively affect your quality of life. It’s important to notice the physical and mental impact of this concern.
Physically, keep an eye out for fluctuations in weight, especially when paired with changes in appetite. You may find that you can’t stomach food or constantly crave sweet, sugary snacks. Heart palpitations and muscular aches are also common.
Unsurprisingly, emotional exhaustion also comes with a range of mental effects. Expect to experience ‘brain fog’ when emotionally exhausted. You’ll struggle with memory retention, cognitive processing, concentration, and creative problem-solving.
Expect your mood to change sharply when experiencing emotional exhaustion. Pessimism will become the norm, and even the most basic setback can feel insurmountable. When emotionally exhausted, you may also be uncharacteristically irritable.
This can impact your ability to perform at work or fulfill duties around the house. Your home may fall into disarray, and you’ll struggle to manage your interpersonal relationships. Sadly, emotional exhaustion can be so numbing that you’ll find it hard to care.
Of course, the main symptom of emotional exhaustion is fatigue. The condition will take its toll and leave you feeling tired most of the time – but still struggling to sleep.
Overcoming Emotional Exhaustion
Emotional exhaustion recovery isn’t as simple as crawling into bed and sleeping until you feel better.
Just as emotional exhaustion slowly builds over time, gradually making you feel more and more downbeat and sluggish, it takes time to recover from.
To combat emotional exhaustion, practice the following self-care policies:
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. This will help you keep endorphins and energy flowing and make it likelier that you’ll sleep soundly at night
- Follow a strict routine throughout your waking and sleeping schedules, rising and retiring at similar times each day
- Take time for yourself, away from work. Ensure you utilize any vacation time and give your mind and body rest on occasion – either by yourself or with loved ones
- Take the time to discuss any problems or concerns in your life, either with friends, family, or a professional
Above all, take the time to moderate your incoming and outgoing energy. Practice superior sleep hygiene and ensure that you’re getting eight hours of quality rest per night. This will help you maintain a positive mental attitude.
If you’re feeling blue, it’s perfectly natural to be tired. The same sensations in your brain that lower your mood also prevent your body from generating energy.
You’re likelier to enjoy a more positive mindset by re-establishing a healthy sleep pattern.