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Fatigue or Depression

Discussion in 'Post-Exertional Malaise, Fatigue, and Crashes' started by wonderoushope, Nov 17, 2017.

  1. wonderoushope

    wonderoushope Senior Member

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    Hi there,

    How do you tell the difference between CFS and depression?

    I am going through a bout of being very tired and not wanting to do anything or get out bed. I feel really slow and sluggish and feel like I have been punched in the face, but somehow I am wondering if this bout is depression and not CFS.

    I do believe I have/had CFS as well, I get extreme food sensitivities, in the past, I have had Post-exertional malaise, joint issues and a whole lot of other symptoms, but this time around I am not sure if this is not depression. I'm not overly sad though, just not motivated and very slow to do things. But noticed I am sort of avoiding replying to friends and not wanting to go out (I know you might think well I don't have CFS, but I have been in a bit of remission).

    Anyway, I had very busy few weeks due to having to help move my gran into an aged care home (and going and finding her one - visiting 13 homes in total) and then moving out of my studio office in the city. If you are wondering, health wise I had been pretty good for the last 2-3 months (took about 5 months on it though to get results), on a strict chemical intolerance diet (and finding out some of my triggers) so I was starting to be able to move more, but a year ago was not able to do any of that because I could hardly move.

    So yeah maybe all the activity and stress is catching up with me (I was fine and all steam ahead when I was sorting out my grans' issues, but now wondering if it is catching up with me and I am crashing), or I am actually going through depression. I have also had a few food gastrointestinal flare-ups these last few weeks, which probably is adding to the issue. Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
  2. Dechi

    Dechi Senior Member

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    ME doesn’t have much in common with depression. With ME, you want to do a lot, but you physically can’t. When you have depression, you don’t feel like doing anything, even though you physically can. They more like opposites.

    ME often brings on secondary depression. Or situational depression if you prefer. In my case, I get depressed because I can’t do anything. When my symptoms decrease, depression is lifted. It comes back when I get physically worse.
     
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  3. wonderoushope

    wonderoushope Senior Member

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    Thanks for info. But I assume with depression isn't it just as hard to do things physically because you become so tired and weak. No? I want to do things, but I feel like such an effort to do it and makes me more tired to continue on and I think I start to feel depressed because I feel like my body is shutting down and not functioning properly.

    I find that too when my fatigue and other symptoms are lifted so is the depression-like symptoms.
     
    Dechi likes this.
  4. Dechi

    Dechi Senior Member

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    I couldn’t really tell you what the body feels like with depression, as I never experienced it, except secondary depression because of ME.

    But I always thought that in depression, the mind was keeping you from doing activities, not the body. For example, even though I love weight lifting, if I actually went to the gym and did a full workout, I would faint within minutes and end up in the hospital.

    If you force someone with depression to go to the gym, he will not want to go but I don’t think he would need to be hospitalized unless he has some other severe health condition.

    Depression can be a very serious mental condition, but it doesn’t affect the body directly in my opinion.
     
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  5. wonderoushope

    wonderoushope Senior Member

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    Hmm, yeah I think the gym thing is a good example. I would be affected physically by going to the gym (I've never loved the gym - he he!). However, I would get PEM and wiped out for three days at least with extreme fatigue and muscle aches. Straight after a session, I would need to go to sleep and then keep on sleeping.

    But I think depression does affect the body directly as well. Some of the symptoms include fatigue, gastrointestinal and body aches.

    I think I have a mixture of depression and CFS, but I think my depression is mainly brought on by CFS.
     
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  6. Dechi

    Dechi Senior Member

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    I didn’t phrase that right. You’re right, depression can and does affect the body. I meant that the physical cause of depression is not the body, but the mind, if that makes sense ? In our case, with ME, the depression is brought on by despair from physical disability.
     
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  7. wonderoushope

    wonderoushope Senior Member

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    Yes that makes sense. It's hard because there are things that could be affecting my mind too, to cause depression. Agggh so hard. Maybe it's a mixture of the two...for me.
     
    Dechi likes this.
  8. Dechi

    Dechi Senior Member

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    Oh yes, it can definitely get very complex and physical and mental illnesses can intertwine and make it virtually impossible to distinguish one from the other. Anxiety is another mental problem that exacerbates the illness but is also made worse from it. Nothing easy here...

    Hang in there, there are better days coming your way ! :)
     
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  9. alicec

    alicec Senior Member

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    Australia
    When you are depressed you may not want to exercise but if you push yourself to do it it is often very helpful, certainly it doesn't cause a problem.

    If you have CFS, even if you want to exercise, doing it doesn't help and is likely to make you worse.

    Note by exercise I don't mean anything vigorous, just a gentle walk can be good for depression and bad for CFS.
     
  10. wonderoushope

    wonderoushope Senior Member

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    The problem for me is I have never found an exercise that beneficial. I never get those endorphins everyone talks about. Although, when I gently walk it is relaxing for the most part.
     
  11. nettle_tea

    nettle_tea

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    I had depression before I became sick with ME. Definitely don't underestimate the effects depression can have on your body! I don't think there's a super clear distinction between physical and mental illness, because the mind is a part of the body, and because a lot of people with mental illnesses also have chronic physical conditions. It can be hard to untangle.

    But at the same time, ME fatigue feels very different to me. When I was depressed, the mood issues and medication side effects made me feel like I was walking through fog or glue. I lost a lot of stamina, and a brisk walk felt like a huge workout. I was also very sleepy from my meds (sometimes I slept 12-14 hours a night, would often fall asleep in the shower or on the bus to school, and needed special permission to start school at a later time). But I didn't experience PEM in the same way. Starting with a small amount of exercise and working my way up helped, even though it took a long time. It wouldn't work now. The depression fatigue also came with a lack of motivation to do anything - a sense that it would be pointless, even if part of me knew this wasn't true. With ME, for me, there is no apathy.

    I still have depression at times, although mostly as a secondary effect of my anxiety disorder. It can be hard to tell the difference between an ME relapse and a depression relapse (or both) at the beginning, but it's usually clear within a week or so.
     
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