Am I Depressed or Just Sleepy?

Raise your hand if you’ve had days where you feel like your eyelids weigh 80 pounds and getting out of bed feels impossible! I’m sure many of you are raising your hand, I know I am.

Going through periods of fatigue is normal and can be caused by many things (including sleeping too much!). However, if you find yourself struggling to keep your eyes open consistently for more than a few days a week it may be a sign of something deeper.

Research shows that many people with depression and other mental health conditions experience both insomnia (trouble sleeping) and hypersomnia (excessive sleep).

So, how can you know whether or not your lethargy is just a period of fatigue or a symptom of depression? While I never recommend self-diagnosing, this quiz can help you get an idea of whether or not you should contact a professional. If you answer “yes” to 4 or more of these you may be dealing with more than just being sleepy.

  1. Do you experience insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day? (Y or N)
  2. Have you had significant weight loss or gain without any change in your diet? (Y or N)
  3. Do you have concentration problems? (Y or N)
  4. Are you having trouble remembering basic information? (Y or N)
  5. Have you noticed a dip in your libido? (Y or N)
  6. Are you experiencing feelings of hopelessness or helplessness? (Y or N)
  7. Have you lost interest in things that were once pleasurable? (Y or N)
  8. Have you had any symptoms that cause significant distress in social, occupational, or other areas fo functioning? (Y or N)
  9. Do you have a diminished ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions often? (Y or N)
  10. Have you had recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, without making a plan? (Y or N)

Treatment for sleep deprivation is different than treatment for depression and will vary with each person. However, here are a few tips that can help with both:

  1. Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule, even on weekends.
  2. Get into bright light soon after waking in the morning - ideally in direct sunlight.
  3. Perform some form of exercise every day, even if it is just for 10-20 minutes.
  4. Avoid afternoon naps if you have nighttime insomnia.
  5. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake.
  6. Eat a balanced diet filled with leafy greens and vegetables.

In the end, you will not be able to really address either health issues of sleep deprivation or depression without first consulting with a healthcare professional. If you find yourself suffering from chronic fatigue and would like to talk about how to get to the root of the issue you can email me at or call my office at (310) 614-0323. Let’s figure out a way to get your energy back up and prepare you for an exciting holiday season!