Dealing with Depression/Mental Fatigue


QUESTION: For a few years I've been feeling very mentally fatigued. The cause of it was mononucleosis, but after a while I couldn't get any better. I've seen a few doctors and they told me to take antidepressants. However, I was experiencing only fatigue and not the other symptoms of depression. Finally I decided to try Lexapro for a few months, but it was not helpful.
Do you think I could have depression? A lot of the doctors were certain that I was depressed, but I was not feeling other symptoms and the medicine wssn't very useful (I didn't take the medication extremely regularly. Somedays I forgot. I think the most consecutive times I've taken it were a few weeks. I'm not sure if this is the reason for the antidepressant's uselessness.)

ANSWER: Hi Philip:

Some antidepressants have been used for mental fatigue.  However, since you have been suffering for a few years, I am surprised the doctors have not looked into other areas of fatigue.

You may have chronic fatigue since this has been going on for a couple of years.  Just type in "chronic fatigue symptoms" in your browser and read what the symptoms are.  Fatigue can affect your concentration and so can depression.  Do you find yourself sleeping a lot?  Please read up on the symptoms.

Another area could be lupus; read up on that and its symptoms.

Another area of possibility is you do not have the right antidepressant - if it is depression only.

Usually with chronic fatigue (CFS) is fibromyalgia.  Read up on that.

Now a days, there are so many different illnesses that the individual actually needs to do their own research so they can go to the doctor better informed of what their symptoms are.  Many doctors
now a days still do not believe in CFS and many doctors, sadly to say, do not take depression seriously.

You need to see a doctor who is educated in depression, cfs, lupus, etc - those areas.  These types of doctors are psychiatrists, neurologists and sometimes rhuematologists.

If your mental fatigue causes you "brain fog" - that is hard to think clearly, forget some words, takes longer to do things, etc, you may have CFS or lupus.

So, when you call for a doctor's appointment, make sure the doctor is very experienced in treating fatigue, lupus, MS, and the body's immune system.

Hope my ideas help you out and lead you into the right direction.

Take care,

Dr. Pat

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you
I did search up CFS and a lot of the symptoms such as Brain Fog, unrefreshing sleep, unable to think clearly do fit me.
However, I do not experience post-exertional malaise and other symptoms such as muscle pain, sore throat, etc. Plus I am only 17.
Lupus doesn't fit me either. It is only the mental problems plus tinnitus that is troubling me.

Where can I find a doctor who is experienced in treating fatigue?

I've seen several doctors. Some of which say they don't know and others say that I have depression, although I seriously doubt it and I've already tried antidepressants. I've also seen a neurologist and psychologist, and I've gotten an MRI scan.
This fatigue has been seriously troubling me all throughout high school. I can not focus on my school work and it's been difficult for me to socialize with people because I'm so mentally tired.

People with CFS have various symptoms - the one they all have in common is the mental fatigue and also the physical fatigue.

You have been suffering a long time and are so young to have this ailment in your life.  Plus tinnitus.  I have had Tinnitus for many years - it started around age 13 or 14 - and I have been looking for a "cure" but there is none for it.

I also have CFS with the mental fatigue plus the fatigue after any physical activity.  I myself have researched so much.  My primary care physician is strongly familiar with depression and fatigue.  I also see a neurologist.  

I have another idea. Type in "mental fatigue" in your browser and see what pops up.  Also, "mental fatigue but not physical fatigue".   You may discover something.

Over the counter St. John's Wort has helped some with depression and also "5htp" has helped some feel better also.  If you are still using antidepressants, let your doctor know you are trying St. John's Wort.
Wait awhile and see if it helps at all.  Then switch to "5htp" and let the doctor also know before you take it.  You can buy these in health food stores, even drug stores and supermarkets.  How many different types of antidepressants have you used?  Some people have a biological system that resists antidepressants.  The frustrating part is that everyone's system is different.

Tinnitus - notice if eating sugar, vinegar, ice cream makes the tinnitus ringing louder. If so, do not eat things that make it worse.  

Take care,

Dr. Pat

Let me know if you come across new info for mental fatigue.  

Dealing with Depression

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Patricia A. Schafer, Ph.D.


I received my Ph.D. from Kent State,in Ohio in Counseling.I specialize in various forms of depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and forms of addictions such as substance abuse,eating disorders and gambling. My licenses are: Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor -Supervisor(LPCC-S) and Licensed Professional Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC) My experience includes counseling substance abusers, families of alcoholics/drug addictions, and codependency issues. I also specialize in social phobia; stress; anxieties; women`s issues; grief and adjustments to life changes. Some therapeutic techniques used are: CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behaviorial Therapy)REBT (Rational Emotive), SFT (Solution Focused) and 12-Step, etc. If you live in the Cleveland area, you can contact me at my office for an appointment at: 440-349-4521. I accept insurance and EAP programs.


Twelve years experience as a professional clinical counselor; 30 years member of Al-Anon.


Experiences of prejudice among individuals in African American and Caucasian Interracial Marriages: A Q-methodological Study (Doctoral Dissertation - December 2008; Wilsnack and Beckman's book: Alcohol Problems in Women (1984). Alcohol use and marital violence: Female and Male Differences in reactions to alcohol(pages 260-279.

Ph.D. in Counseling - Kent State MS in Counseling - John Carroll University BS in Psychology - University of Pittsburgh

Awards and Honors
Previous president of NCOCA (North Central Ohio Counseling Association); previous president of Chi Sigma Iota. Two years VISTA volunteer on Navajo reservation in Inscription House and Shonto.

Past/Present Clients

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