We all have days when our energy flags and we feel lethargic. However, persistent lethargy is one of the diagnostic criteria for depression.
While lethargy is frustrating and can interfere in your daily activities, you can take simple steps to prevent or overcome it.
1. Get enough sleep. This seems obvious enough in theory; however, if you're depressed, this may be easier said than done. Depression can be a reason you're sleeping poorly and not getting enough sleep can also be a causal factor in depression. Regardless of cause and effect, you should aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. To help ensure you sleep soundly, it helps to go to bed and wake at the same time each day, limit daytime naps, and find ways to relax before bedtime.
2. Exercise. When you're feeling lethargic, the last thing you want to do to is exert yourself. Do it anyway. Exercise boosts your energy, stimulates your immune system, enhances your metabolism, and improves your sense of self, which is often low when you're depressed. If the thought of exercising seems overwhelming, start small and find something you enjoy so you stick with it. Walking is easy, relaxing, and very effective.
3. Optimize your diet. What you eat and drink can boost--or drain--your energy levels. Limit sugar and caffeine, which give you a short-lived burst of energy but ultimately leaves you even more fatigued. Start your day right with a healthy breakfast, drink plenty of water, and make sure you get enough omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Go outdoors. This is particularly important for people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, depression that strikes during the winter when the days are short. Sunshine lifts your spirits and your energy. It's also critical for maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D. Most of us are deficient in this crucial nutrient and insufficient vitamin D is associated with a host of physical and emotional problems.
5. Detox your liver. Ancient Chinese and modern-day holistic practitioners believe a poorly functioning liver underlies many of our health problems. In fact, some believe liver dysfunction is the primary cause of depression. The liver filters our blood and helps remove toxins from the body. If the liver cannot do its job properly, the excess waste circulates through our body and can make us lethargic and depressed. Consider a colon cleansing under the guidance of an experienced health professional.
Lethargy can sneak up on you and you might not notice it right away. Consider keeping an activity log to monitor your energy levels.
Mercola, Joseph, MD. "The Best Kept Secret For Treating Depression." Web. 12 February 2005.
Scott, Shelby M.D., FACSM. "Combating Depression with Exercise." ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal. Web. July/August 2005. http://exerciseismedicine.org/pdfs/C75Depression.pdf
Royal College of Psychiatrists. "Tiredness." Web.
- ^ http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2005/02/12/treating-depression.aspx (articles.mercola.com)
- ^ http://exerciseismedicine.org/pdfs/C75Depression.pdf (exerciseismedicine.org)
- ^ http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfoforall/problems/sleepproblems/tiredness.aspx (www.rcpsych.ac.uk)