Can my fatigue really be caused by depression?

Q: Someone told me that depression could make me feel tired. Is that possible?

A: Absolutely. But let me just start out by saying that there are many medical conditions that can cause a person to feel tired all the time and even mimic the other symptoms of depression, so it is extremely important to see your health care provider if you are experiencing fatigue or other signs of depression.

Depression is one of the most common psychiatric conditions that doctors encounter, showing up in at least 20% of women and 12% of men during their lifetimes!  Fatigue or loss of energy is so common in depression that it is actually included in the diagnostic criteria. Other symptoms used to diagnose depression include:

  • loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
  • significant weight loss or gain
  • trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • inability to concentrate or focus
  • recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

If you are having any of these symptoms, there are many resources available to you on campus!

The providers at Student Health Services manage many patients with anxiety and depression from a medical standpoint. While the exact cause of depression is not yet known, there are many medications that act on neurotransmitters in the brain that are effective in treating it. These medications typically take a few weeks to become effective in alleviating symptoms.

Counseling & Consultation Service (CCS) has social workers, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists to manage depression from a psychotherapy as well as a medical standpoint.  All enrolled students are eligible for 10 free counseling sessions per academic year.  If you have the Comprehensive Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), you may be eligible for additional counseling sessions with a $15 co-pay per session.  If you do not have SHIP and need additional counseling, CCS will assist you in finding services in Columbus.

Counseling is extremely important because it has been shown that medical therapy in combination with psychotherapy is much more effective in treating depression symptoms than either of these treatments alone.

Again, be sure to see a health care provider if you are experiencing fatigue or other signs of depression.

Angela Walker (recent Ohio State College of Medicine graduate)

Muhammad Khan, MD (Ohio State University Student Health Services alum)

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