Feeling tired happens to everyone. But when lethargy becomes continuous or stops you from doing things you enjoy, it may be a symptom of something more.

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Anergia is a continual feeling of tiredness, lack of energy, or sleepiness. It is often a symptom of other mental health disorders, such as depression.

The condition can cause you to feel a lack of desire to participate in daily tasks, including activities you typically enjoy.

With anergia, you may also experience lethargy or low energy. This condition might make you feel frequently tired or cause an overwhelming desire to stay in bed or sleep excessively.

Anergia occurs when you feel a persistent lack of energy and tiredness. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anergia as an absence of energy and being in a state of passivity.

It is not technically a condition on its own. Instead, it can be a symptom of other mental health disorders and conditions, like depression.

If you are experiencing anergia, it might make you feel indifferent to doing anything, including:

  • socializing
  • spending time with friends and family
  • going to work or school

You may also lose interest in things and activities that once made you happy, such as:

  • hobbies
  • sports
  • television or movies
  • books
  • leisure activities

In addition to finding it hard to want to do things, you may also feel extremely tired. This feeling is different from the feeling of staying up late or not sleeping well the night before.

The tired feeling from anergia does not go away, no matter how much you rest or sleep. It’s common for people experiencing anergia to feel the urge to sleep a lot more than usual.

Anergia is not a separate condition in and of itself. Rather, it is a common symptom of many conditions and disorders, including depression.

Common signs of anergia include:

  • losing interest in activities that once made you happy
  • lack of energy
  • low motivation
  • tiredness
  • sleeping more than usual

Depression describes a group of mental health disorders characterized by feelings of sadness, emptiness, and irritability that might affect a person’s ability to function.

There are many types of depression with symptoms that can cause changes in how you:

  • think
  • feel
  • respond to daily tasks

People with depression may experience anergia. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), common symptoms of depression indicating anergia include:

  • loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • fatigue
  • lack of energy
  • low motivation
  • sleeping more than typical

Anergic depression

Anergic depression falls under the category of atypical depression, which is a form of clinical depressive disorder. With atypical depression, you might notice that positive events may improve your mood temporarily.

People with anergic depression may not experience typical symptoms of depression. This condition may make you feel like you cannot get out of bed and might cause you to feel disengaged from social life, work, or school events.

You may be experiencing an episode of anergic depression if two or more of the following symptoms are present:

  • increased periods of sleeping
  • increased appetite
  • strong reactions to what others say and do, affecting relationships and school or work obligations
  • feeling of heaviness in legs or arms

Anergia is not a stand-alone disease or condition, but a symptom of several conditions. While depression is a common cause of anergia, there are many other conditions that might trigger episodes of anergia.

Possible conditions that may cause you to experience anergia include:

Anergia may be misdiagnosed or ignored by healthcare professionals in older people as typical signs of getting older. However, aging does not cause anergia.

Other factors that may contribute to anergia include:

  • side effects of certain medications
  • trouble sleeping due to sleep apnea or other sleep disorders
  • low levels of certain nutrients, like B12, iron, vitamin D, or folic acid

Currently, it is not clear how many people are living with anergia or anergic depression. However, research does give insights into atypical depression.

If you think you may be experiencing anergic depression, you’re not alone. According to a 2017 review of studies, an estimated 15% to 36% of all people with depression are living with atypical depression, which could include anergic depression.

Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Research shows that narcolepsy and depression share similar symptoms, including fatigue and social withdrawal.

Additionally, a study from 2018 noted that narcolepsy and depression often exist together. If you are living with narcolepsy, you may develop:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • other mental health conditions

In short, narcolepsy could directly cause anergia. You may also develop depression, which might also lead to anergia.

People with anergia may experience challenges related to motivation, energy levels, and keeping interest in things they once enjoyed.

Some people living with this condition report difficulty in getting out of bed or feeling overwhelmed by sleepiness, which may impact mental and physical health.

You may have trouble completing everyday responsibilities or become disinterested in everyday things like:

  • going to work or school
  • social life
  • hobbies
  • physical exercise

Anergia might also take a toll on your relationship with others, including:

  • friends
  • family
  • coworkers
  • employers

However, anergia is a treatable condition. You can take steps to treat underlying conditions, like depression, which can reduce fatigue and help you get involved in activities again.

Currently, there is no specific, formal treatment for anergia.

But since anergia is a common symptom of depression and other conditions, treating it typically focuses on addressing underlying causes.

Treatment plans for depression with anergia typically consist of:

Talk therapy in particular could have the most positive effects for anergia with depression. A study from 2019 showed that CBT may have a positive effect on depression symptoms, including low energy.

Talking with a doctor or therapist is often the first step toward healing.

Like all mental health conditions, it may take time and effort to find a treatment plan that works best for you. You might have to try different things before you see results.

Self-care

There are easy, accessible steps you can take in the comfort of your home to help boost energy:

  • Get moving: It may be challenging to exercise when all you feel like doing is lying in bed, but a 2017 report of studies suggests that exercise could have a positive effect on decreasing anergia.
  • Whole foods: Trying to incorporate nutritious foods may help improve depression symptoms with low energy, but more research is still needed to fully support this.
  • Sleep well: Try to adopt healthy sleep habits, like setting regular hours in bed, avoiding caffeine, and reducing light exposure at night.
  • Have fun: A 2019 research report has shown that participating in activities you normally enjoy could help improve symptoms of depression.

If you are living with depression and think you may be experiencing anergia, you’re not alone. Low energy and lethargy are common treatable symptoms of depression.

One of the best treatment options is to work with your doctor to treat underlying conditions, like depression. You can also make small lifestyle changes that may help you feel better, including:

  • physical exercise
  • eating nutritious foods
  • adopting healthy sleep practices

If think you may have depression, speaking to a doctor about your concerns may set you on the best course to find help. They can help you find the best treatment plan for you, including recommending new therapies or medications.

They may also be able to help connect you with a therapist or support group of people who are also living with anergic depression.

You may have to try multiple strategies before finding what works best for you, and it may take some time.

If you’re ready to reach out for support, you can visit Psych Central’s mental health help guide.