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Fatigue? Depression? What am I?


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Challenging discussion of the day (please feel free to answer one of my questions, or expand upon this theme):
 
How do you tell the difference between exhaustion and depression?
Do you treat them any differently?
Do you ever find that trying to honour the fatigue feels a lot like giving in to depression? How do you deal with that?
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I'm not talking about causes. I'm asking about how to tell the difference - and what you do about it - when one or the other is setting in. Since if you figure that it's exhaustion and go to bed for a couple of days that can make depression worse. If you wager that it's depression and try to power through it that can make exhaustion worse.

So how to you respond in an appropriate way?

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Rosie, this is something I am struggling with too. I work long days starting early and it seems like there's always more to do. Too much, really.

I think the key is balance, and recognizing that sometimes it's okay to give in to the depression. So, take a nap but only if you've been active, don't let yourself stay in bed all day.

I know for me that setting good boundaries is important (but super hard) because if I get exhausted enough (regardless of the original cause of the fatigue) it triggers bad depression spells. Even with depression it's sometimes good self care to sit on the couch and binge watch bad tv... for a while. Beating ourselves up for giving in really just helps the depression win.

Are there ways you can maintain good self-care while acknowledging the impact of fatigue? For example, maybe do less cooking and invest in some healthy frozen meals - the trade off is cost for easy but still healthy meals you can eat regularly. Maybe add something to your bedtime routine that helps you relax/calm down so your sleep is more restful, like a hot shower or applying lotion. 

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That's a good question and one I asked a lot at certain times. One thing I looked at was my attitude towards things like going out with a friend or other things I enjoyed when not depressed. If I just didn't want to do any of it, I was depressed. If I wanted to do things but was just too tired, then I was exhausted. Also exhaustion got better with a good nights sleep, depression did not. I'll throw in that I also felt a mix of both due to a few different medical problems:  anemia, hypothyroid, and low vit D, at different times. So it can get complicated. Those are my experiences FWIW. 

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Thanks!
That's a really good way to tell them apart. I'm usually up for doing things. I've been sleeping for around 12 hours/night. It seems to help. I have enough energy to do everything that I want to do. It just makes for short days.

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The main difference between these conditions is that chronic fatigue syndrome is primarily physical disorder while depression is a mental health disorder. Symptoms of depression can include continuous feelings of sadness, anxiety or emptiness.

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8 hours ago, mcjimjam said:

Exhaustion gets better with some R&R, depression generally doesn't.

you're right, but on the day, when you're feeling tired for a period, I just don't know if it's "normal" or not.  But as you say, after a few hours of being awake I'm ready to collapse and that's far from "normal".

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Just now, sming said:

you're right, but on the day, when you're feeling tired for a period, I just don't know if it's "normal" or not.  But as you say, after a few hours of being awake I'm ready to collapse and that's far from "normal".

I wouldn't judge myself to be depressed based on the experience of a single day. A depressive episode lasts longer than two weeks. I might think, "I feel like shit today" but wouldn't decide my mental health is deteriorating unless it was an ongoing trend.

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2 hours ago, mcjimjam said:

I wouldn't judge myself to be depressed based on the experience of a single day. A depressive episode lasts longer than two weeks. I might think, "I feel like shit today" but wouldn't decide my mental health is deteriorating unless it was an ongoing trend.

we've got our wires crossed here :)   I'm clinically depressed, that's a fact that I accept without question.  What I am saying though is that on any given day, when I feel tired, I don't know if it's due to "healthy" reasons (e.g. because I worked hard or slept too little) or "unhealthy" reasons (simply because of my depression).  Meds further muddy the waters and naturally having TRD (20 years and counting), I'm on ~ 5 meds at any given time and working out which one - if any - is the cause of the tiredness is next to impossible.

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1 minute ago, sming said:

we've got our wires crossed here :)   I'm clinically depressed, that's a fact that I accept without question.  What I am saying though is that on any given day, when I feel tired, I don't know if it's due to "healthy" reasons (e.g. because I worked hard or slept too little) or "unhealthy" reasons (simply because of my depression).  Meds further muddy the waters and naturally having TRD (20 years and counting), I'm on ~ 5 meds at any given time and working out which one - if any - is the cause of the tiredness is next to impossible.

Ah, I see what you mean. I agree. It is hard to tell, at any one time, whether a particular mood I am in or way I feel is normal, a symptom or a med thing, as well. And it is hard to distinguish when, as we all are, we have had years of illness and meds. Hard to remember what normal is when we don't really experience it necessarily.

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17 hours ago, Iceberg said:

@sming have you ever tried ECT after all those meds? 

I've thought about it on many occasions but when I read ECT boards I don't see many success stories and see a lot of problems caused.  I know that the internet (esp. forums) is not an accurate barometer for its viability or likely success as a treatment but it's given me pause for thought.  I'm not ruling it out though.  Do you have experience with it?

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Yep. Statistically it's the most effective treatment for depression...they can start with a form called unilateral which caused me zero side effects 

I had a little memory loss with the stronger form (bilateral) but it's worth it to feel not suicidal all day...at least for me

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