One symptom of depression is fatigue. Many depressed people interpret their fatigue as a sign that there is something wrong permanently wrong with them medically and as a result feel more pessimistic and depressed which leads to more fatigue. Abraham Low, wrote a book called Mental Health Through Will Training in which he included panel discussions by patients about based on an article called "The Myth of Nervous Fatigue."
One of the patients Annette told how she decided to do physical work inspite of her fatigue and found that after the work she felt fine and that clued her in that the fatigue wasn't in her muscles.
Annette's story: When I became ill I was always exhausted. When I came home after a day's work I felt as though I had to crawl into bed. Many an evening I thought I was too tired to eat and so I did not eat. I just crawled into bed and stayed there. The doctor prescribed a program of rest and I followed it faithfully. Returning from work at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon I went to bed and sometimes I slept and sometimes I did not. I got up for supper and went right back to bed again. The first few days I got a little relief, but very little. Very soon I felt just as tired lying in bed and resting. Of course, I thought the fatigue was physical. I thought I was gradually losing my vitality and resistance. But I went on with the program, spending more and more time in bed and doing fewer and fewer things. But I felt more exhausted than ever. Physicians had told me my condition was that of a nervous exhaustion and I formed the idea that the nerves in my body were exhausted and shriveled and incapable of performing their job. When I came to the Illinois Research Hospital I was told in classes that my trouble was not fatigue but self-disgust and discouragement. I didn't like that very well because I knew how my muscles felt and it didn't just sound right that disgust and discouragement should make them feel exhausted. But as I continued to attend classes I became convinced that our physician was right and I learned to be more objective about my symptoms. After I returned home from the hospital I wanted to move a large piece of furniture and did not want to wait until my husband came home. So I did the job and moved it and then I decided to move the other pieces and when my husband came home, instead of being in a state of exhaustion I felt fine. After that experience I was convinced that, as our doctor says, nervous fatigue is in the mind and not in the muscles.
Another patient, Gertrude became fatigued while ironing. She wrote:
I thought I was exhausted from being up so early. But in a second I realized that what was really the matter was that I did not want to finish the ironing. I had a few whirts to do which I don't enjoy doing.
She finished the ironing and found that the fatigue was gone which supports her theory that the fatigue was simply a result of not wanting to iron.
Another patient Christine suffered from fatigue and said that every doctor she spoke to told her to get more rest. She wrote:
The other day I felt miserable and tense and tired and I thought I just couldn't get dressed. But I made up my mind to go ot the Recovery office to have a cup of coffee with the other girls: But I felt so draggy I didn't think I could make it. But I went and when I left I felt fine and all fatigue was gone.
If Christine's fatigue was a result of lack of rest or something medically wrong with her, one wouldn't expect her to feel better after going out and socializing. If it was from loneliness and depression one would expect her to feel better which is exactly what happened.
I myself experienced a recovery from fatigue when applying self help which can be perused by clicking here.
Fatigue is only one of many symptoms that are misinterpreted by depressed people. Abraham Low listed other symptoms that patients of his reported that caused them anxiety including an electric buzzing sensation, palpitations, numbness, head or chest pressures, dizziness, difficulty of concentration, dimness of vision, headaches, nausea, etc.. He argued that the anxiety caused by these symptoms caused anxiety and sleeplessness and made the patient get worse.
It must be made very clear, that sometimes fatigue is caused by disease. In fact there is a story on the Anti-Closed Mind web site titled It was All In Her Head, The Experts Said about a woman who was told her fatigue was psychiatric in origin when it was not.
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