Fatigue Caused by Depression

Lebo was a 45 year old woman whose husband died one year ago. The death of her husband had been hard as he had cancer for 3 year before his death. The money they had saved for their son’s university was all spent on his hospital and doctor bills. When he died they had little money and the job she had only provided enough for food and the house rent. Her son, who was 17 years old dropped out of school to work and help Lebo with the house hold bills. Though thankful he did this Lebo was sad he was not going to be able to go to college.

During the year Lebo just could not get over thinking about her husband. She missed him, though not the fights they had which were frequent and loud. She was sure their son had been affected by these fights.  Friends told her she would be depressed but it was now a year after he had died. She actually did not feel very depressed now, just tired. Even after exercising, as she walked 30 minutes most days, she felt tired.  In fact she was getting so tired she was having a hard time completing her work at the company she was employed by and doing her household work.

She told a friend about her being tired and this friend suggested they go to the hospital to see a doctor.  This friend told her that last year she had gone to the doctor for being tired and she had a thyroid problem. Taking one pill a day corrected her problems and now she felt great. Lebo thought this was a great idea and the two of them went to see the doctor at the local hospital.

Lebo told the doctor her whole story, then the doctor examined her and had some blood tests done. After the blood tests returned Lebo and her friend returned to the doctor and discussed all of the results. The doctor told Lebo that her exam and blood work was all normal. He told her he thought she was depressed and that her fatigue was simply a symptom of her depression. Lebo was not sure she believed the doctor as she did not think she was depressed.

The doctor told Lebo the following. Everyone experiences sadness at times.  We grieve when someone we love dies.  We worry and feel a sense of failure when our jobs or finances present difficulties.  We feel sadness and loss when a relationship ends against our wishes.  Temporary feelings of sadness are normal and even healthy when we experience negative life events. 

However, sometimes we experience a type of sadness that is more severe and lasts longer than the normal reactions.  Many people have to cope with a condition called Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression.  This disorder can be extremely severe, disrupt the person’s daily functioning and sometimes even lead to death through suicide.  Clearly, depression is not normal sadness and must be diagnosed and treated medically in order to restore the victim to proper health.

Lebo found all of this interesting. It sounded a lot like her. The doctor went on to tell her other symptoms of depression.   The symptom many people think of first is sadness.  It is true that most people will experience a sad mood most of the time when they are depressed.  The degree of sadness experienced can vary from day-to-day and even sometimes within the same day, but, overall, people who are depressed will report feeling sad or unhappy most of the time.  Sometimes a person with depression will feel a numb or bland mood rather than sadness.  They don’t really feel emotional at all.  They don’t exactly feel sad, but they usually have an inability to feel happy feelings. They may describe themselves as just going through the motions of daily activities.  Lebo had to admit to the doctor this described her quite well. In fact she began to realize that she had become used to this sad mood in the past year and just thought of it now as normal.

In addition to mood symptoms, the doctor told Lebo, depression tends to either increase or decrease our sleep.  When depressed, we may sleep more than usual.  We can sleep as much as ten to fifteen hours per day, or feel like we just cannot get enough sleep.  Sometimes the person will try to sleep as much as possible to avoid having to deal with the difficulties of life.  Lebo surely felt like this at times.

The doctor told Lebo that they had more to talk about; however there was not enough time to finish on this day.  Lebo however was glad there was nothing physically wrong with her. However she was concerned that she would not get better after a year of not feeling well. The doctor though gave her a lot of encouragement that she would get better and probably soon. He told her the most important thing was that she was addressing the problem.

As Lebo and her friend left the hospital her friend told her how her brother had died. Lebo did not even know her friend had a brother. She said 8 years ago her brother also died of cancer. During his dying and after it was hard as she was very close to her brother. Lebo’s friend also had tiredness after the death of her brother for a while. She said going to the doctor and checking things out was helpful, that is eight years ago, her health was normal. The thyroid problem was only discovered one year ago.

Lebo asked her friend what helped her the most. Her friend told her that talking with friends and understanding about depression was helpful. Lebo’s friend had learned a lot about depression in the years after her brother’s death. She told Lebo the following about depression.

She said many depressed people, find that they lose sleep.  The most common pattern is for a person to go to sleep fairly well, but for them to wake up several times during the night or to wake up early in the morning before it’s time to get up and to not be able to go back to sleep.  A depressed person may report averaging only three to four hours of sleep per day, even though they try to sleep more.  This loss of sleep can cause fatigue. Lebo knew this had been a problem during the past year and she had not had this before her husband died.

Lebo’s friend then talked about what she knew about loss of energy.  She said loss or energy or fatigue is another common symptom of depression.  The individual may feel like they are just too tired or feel too weak to do anything.  They have to push themselves to do even the smallest activities and may get behind in chores or work.  Of course, getting behind increases the depression because they feel overwhelmed and feel a sense of failure.  Some depressed persons will say that they find themselves just sitting staring into space and feel that they lack the necessary energy to do even the smallest tasks.   This was exactly how Lebo felt.

However, Lebo’s friend told her that the best thing she learned was not about depression or how to get over it but in coming to know the person of Jesus Christ. Lebo had heard of him but did not know much about this person Jesus Christ. She was curious how her friend could be made so much better by another person. Lebo’s friend told her that during the time she was depressed a friend of hers had told her about Jesus Christ. She also told her that the Bible is the book which tells us about the person of Jesus. At that time she read in the Bible this verse which was a direct quote from Jesus, ‘I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10.10). ‘

Lebo was very interested in having a more abundant life as hers this past year had been hard and anything but abundant. Lebo asked her friend how Jesus helped her understand how to have this abundant life through Jesus Christ?  Her friend told her that when she understood that she was separated from God from her sin she came to understand the purpose of Jesus’ life on this earth. Lebo’s friend told her that the Bible says, ‘all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23).’ She said to Lebo that she and all of the people in the world are in this state.  She stated further that the Bible says that ‘the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6.23).’ This means that the payment or result of our sin is eternal death. However God has given us a gift of eternal life through the person of Jesus Christ. God through the person of Jesus Christ is ready now to give all people a more abundant life now and forever. Lebo was interested in knowing more about this person of Jesus Christ and how he could help her with her depression and life in general. Lebo’s friend gave her a Bible and told her where to read to understand more about this person of Jesus Christ.

The next week Lebo and her friend returned to the doctor to discuss her depression and symptoms. She and the doctor talked for awhile and then the doctor summarized his main points. The doctor told her that it was important for her to understand that there were several things Lebo could do today to help her. First, she should continue to exercise and get good rest and eat properly. However, he suggested that she try and exercise with a friend. Then 2-3 other times during the week she should meet with friends to talk. The doctor told her she had developed a habit of being alone which can make a depression worse.  She needed to get with other people. Lebo appreciated the doctor’s input and told the doctor that she would be able to start these suggestions today. The doctor told her if in a month she was not feeling better she should get back in touch with him.

After they left from the hospital Lebo and her friend went to eat lunch together. While eating lunch they started talking about the person of Jesus Christ. Lebo had read the places in the Bible and knew that she needed the person of Jesus Christ to help her. She asked her friend how she could have Jesus in her life.  Lebo was especially interested in the place in the Bible which said, ‘We can have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5.1).’ She wanted that peace. In fact she wondered if she the main problem causing the depression and tiredness in her life was not having Jesus Christ.

Lebo’s friend showed her the following place in the Bible which said, ‘If you confess with you mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved (Romans 10.9).’ Lebo’s friend told her that when we confess with our mouth the Jesus is Lord we are really saying that we believe that Jesus has died on the Cross for our sins and we admit to him that we are a sinful person and he can and will save us from those sins. When we believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead we are saying we believe that Jesus overcame life’s worse enemy, which is death.

Lebo wanted to believe this. Her friend asked her to pray the following prayer, ‘Dear Lord Jesus Christ, I need You. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord.  Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life.  Make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.’

After Lebo prayed this prayer she was immediately filled with a peace and joy she had never had before in her life. Her friend told her that this was the same way it was with her life. She was so happy. During the next few days and weeks she followed the doctor’s advice and she also read her Bible and spent more time with friends. Her depression over this time rapidly improved.  She had the joy of Jesus Christ in her life which gave her meaning and purpose in life.