Combatting Fatigue

Fatigue is a troubling symptom of bipolar disorder, most common during the depression stage. With fatigue, you may find it difficult to move and have an overwhelming desire to sleep the day away.

There are, however, ways to get an edge up on fatigue by preparing your body for it.

Fatigue or not, these are good health practices for anyone, but may be especially important for people with a mental health condition such as bipolar disorder.

Pay Attention to Your Diet

Yes, you are what you eat. If you eat junk, you’re going to feel like junk. If you eat well, you’ll feel, well, better. Food can’t rid your body of fatigue caused by bipolar disorder, but it can get your body in better shape to fight off fatigue.

Yeah, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s might make you feel better for the moment, yet all the sugar and fat is going to put a strain on your digestive system, as well as give you a tiring crash later on.

Stick to whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables as they contain the most useful nutrients and are the easiest to digest. For more on foods, check out Healthline’s Foods That Help Beat Fatigue slideshow.

Limit Your Caffeine

Coffee, sodas, and the numerous amounts of energy drinks may be popular and provide a quick jolt of energy, but it doesn’t provide lasting stamina. The crash afterwards will leave you more tired that when you began.

If you’re feeling zapped, try drinking water. It keeps your body running smoothly, and it prefers it over caffeine.


Simple stretching exercises can release tension that builds up in your muscles and can slow you down.

Learn simple, easy stretches here.

If you have more troublesome stiffness or pain, you may want to treat yourself to a massage, as the benefits help with muscles, fatigue, and relaxation.

Get Some Exercise

Yes, it seems even harder to exercise when you’re tired, but if you’re feeling fatigue on a regular basis, it’s time to get moving. Starting out slow, even just a walk around the block, can do wonders. Don’t overdo it if you haven’t been active in a while because a strain or injury could set you back even further.   

A new study shows that the average adult can tack an extra three years onto his or her life by walking only 6 ½ hours a month, according to research from the California Pacific Medical Center. A half-hour walk after dinner every other night will cover what you need.

Give Meditation a Try

A 2004 study published in Cognitive Therapy and Research showed a connection between meditation and fighting depression, largely combating the mental shackles that create fatigue and lethargy. Meditation enhances the body-mind connection, allowing a person to calmly think through his or her problems.

Meditation doesn’t mean devoting your life to the practice like a Buddhist monk.

Even finding a quiet spot and clearing your mind for a half hour can do wonders. Simply concentrating on the air entering and exiting your nostrils is a common way to clear the mind. Instead of mulling over your problems, calmly examine them, brush them aside, and return your focus to your breathing.

If you’re religious, moments of deep prayer may have the same effect for you.

A Little Sunlight Helps

Numerous studies, including a 2002 study from the Baker Heart Research Institute, state that the vitamin D your body makes while soaking in sunshine can elevate your mood. As long as you need some exercise, go ahead and get it outside for the added bonus of nature’s natural antidepressant. The fresh air can do wonders, too. While you’re at it, try new routes, trails, or parks if you’re running or walking. A little exploration of your town or city will keep things interesting.

And a healthy, subtle glow to your skin may help boost your spirits and self-esteem.

Fatigue After Mania

Fatigue is normal after a period of mania. The manic stage is commonly a time when people skip out on sleep, do more physically, have racing thoughts, and other draining activities. If you experience fatigue after a period of mania, don’t be alarmed. Rather, use the time to catch up on sleep and allow your body time to recover from its latest frantic period. 

Don’t get too lost in that sleep, because you still have things to do. Set aside a few mornings (if you can find them) to sleep in a little later than normal.