“One of the cardinal features of depression is inevitable fatigue. I’m always wondering, when people say to severely depressed patients, “You need exercise.” Well, yeah, it’s hard enough to exercise when your not depressed, right.” Charles Nemerdoff M.D. quoted in an interview in Psychiatric Times, April 30, 2018.
When I read this comment by Dr. Nemerdoff I tended to agree. When I reflected upon my own experience with depression and the “inevitable fatigue” being a big part of my own symptoms of depression, I felt I had to take action. I began taking action as soon as I realized that if I didn’t force myself to get out of bed and get to work, I would lose my job.
Granted, I didn’t intend to run a marathon, or start a daily jog around my neighborhood. The first thing that I had to do was not argue with myself, to get out of bed and do something. I did not want to get out of bed. I felt I was paralyzed and unable to motivate myself for such a monumental decision.
But force myself I did. I quit the head dialogue at each move of my body as it rolled slowly out of the sack. The body said “no;” the mind said “yes you are!” And it was here that I learnt a great lesson and that was to “MOVE THE BODY AND THE MIND WILL FOLLOW,.”
I always encouraged my clients (as a therapist) to do some physical activity–baby steps if you will. But let the body take the lead of the mind and move. Move a little bit. Then move a little bit more. When I started to walk on a daily basis, I gradually was glad that I was out walking. It took a struggle to move out of bed but in time it became easier. And so to this day, I am still walking, at least 30 minutes a day. And everything has improved in my life physically and mentally.
Yes, fatigue is a big part of depression I agree. But now, even doctors in the UK are prescribing physical activity for their patients to get involved with. They get a script from their doctor to get out and exercise. Yes, it’s difficult–yes, it’s hard to get ourselves motivated, but yes, it’s a good way to regain some hope in your life as you gradually lose those stressful feelings set up in your body over time.
Go slow—but GO!!!