Are You Lacking Energy? It Might Be Anergia

By Nicola Kirkpatrick

Updated December 13, 2018

Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC


Anergia Definition

The definition of anergia is "an abnormal lack of energy" both mentally and physically. Scientifically, anergia can be a "diminished or absent sensitivity to commonly used antigens." It is not an illness in its own right, but often a symptom of either depression or schizophrenia.

While many have days where they feel lethargic, anergia is when this state becomes chronic. Due to constant fatigue, many struggles to handle or complete even the simplest of tasks.

Often people around those with anergia will classify them as lazy or apathetic towards jobs, activities, and social lives - when the truth is that they are simply unable to remove themselves from the state of lethargy to engage in anything meaningfully.

Depression AndAnergia

Often, those with depression suffer from anergia. Have you ever heard the saying about not having a reason to get out of bed in the morning? Well, many with depression find this to be accurate, and physically will not have the energy to get out of bed.

Often those with anergic depression become uninterested in what previously brought them joy. Sometimes a diagnosis can be complicated, as those with anergic depression do not always show "traditional" signs of depression, but simply seem lazy to some when, of course, the disinterest is deeply psychological.


Anergic depression is referred to as a type of "atypical depression," which is connected to the ability to be happier (regardless of how slight) when positive events occur in one's life, but still have an underlying depression. For example, even if one is depressed and lethargic throughout the day, they may feel slightly better when their favorite show comes on, their spouse comes home from work, or they receive a letter from a friend.

Sometimes, anergia will be used to help in the diagnosis of depression. For an official diagnosis, a certain number of symptoms need to be present - and anergia can count as one.

If you are suffering from depression and often feel fatigued, make sure you speak to your doctor or psychologist about these symptoms. For easily accessible online counseling, feel free to visit

What Else Causes Anergia?

Narcolepsy, a chronic sleep disorder, and schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which are psychological disorders, have also been shown to prompt anergia. It can be a symptom of dysthymia as well, which is a more mild form of depression; however, it has shown to be very long-lasting. Even when symptoms of these disorders are not as severe, anergia can persist and affect patient's lives dramatically.

There are also specific health issues that may result in anergia. Many heart conditions can cause this abnormal lack of energy, most often acute coronary syndromes. Anemia, a lack of sufficient healthy red blood cells, frequently induces this chronic lethargic state, as does chronic fatigue syndrome. If the thyroid is incapable of producing sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone, a condition that is referred to as hypothyroidism, anergia may often be experienced.

When the elderly experience medical illnesses, anergia most frequently follow.

From time to time, certain medications can also be the culprits of anergia; however, depending on how crucial that medication is in one's health regimen, they may have to find another treatment for anergia instead of simply stopping the drug. Antidepressants often cause the condition, but can usually be swapped for an equally effective medication that won't cause the same side effect.

Occasionally, substance addiction elicits anergia. For some, anergia is developed while taking the substance, while for others it occurs during withdrawal.

While it may seem counterintuitive, lack of exercise or activity can make you more tired and lead to anergia. Trouble sleeping, even without chronic sleep disorder, can also result in the symptom.

Effects OfAnergia

The chronic lethargy of anergia can be intensely debilitating for those who suffer from it. When faced with an inability to summon the energy to perform daily tasks, many fall further into the potentially preexisting depression. Friends and family often look down upon them for being "lazy," leading to further anxiety and depression. Due to intense fatigue, it can often be difficult for those with anergia to perform well within their occupations, sometimes being fired and struggling with monetary issues as a result. It also takes tolls on sufferer's physical health, as they cannot force themselves to exercise or be active.


Because of inactivity, many will suffer from dietary issues. If food is present in their home, many will eat copious amounts, sometimes resulting in obesity or diabetes. If food is not present, anergia will often bar people from going to the grocery store or out to eat so that meals will be skipped, leading to unhealthy weight loss and occasionally anemia. This worsens the anergia because without proper nutrients within the body, energy simply cannot be created.

Can Anergia Be Treated?

Yes, and it is extremely important to seek treatment, as anergia left alone can cause more severe and long-lasting depression, as well as various psychological and physical health problems. If you feel you might have anergia, speak to your doctor immediately or visit

If you have anergia, it can certainly be cured; however, doctors will usually attack what is causing it, instead of the anergia itself. For example, if depression is causing your anergia, instead of finding ways to get you out of the lethargic state, a psychiatrist might prescribe you an SSRI to treat your depression, which in turn should relieve the anergia. These medications act in a way that sort out the chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced, leading to mental illness.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is also common in treating depression, especially when specific mindsets or actions trigger episodes. Many with anergia avoid completing daily tasks that are often necessary for cleaning, showering, or exercising. Therefore, cognitive behavioral therapy can also help them analyze why they are incapable of completing a task, and help them to change the mindset behind their approach, ideally enabling them to perform it in the future.

Group therapy can also be useful as it enables those with anergia to see that others are either currently going through what they are or have in the past, so they will feel as if they are not alone. Most importantly, those with anergia can share how they make breakthroughs or overcome their lethargic states, empowering others in the room to do the same. When someone is feeling downtrodden or incapable, group therapy offers a support system for many who understand it first-hand.

Motivational Interviewing, or counseling via attempting to achieve goals, has also shown to be useful for those with anergia. This method does not necessarily treat the depression, as it is more targeted toward getting patients to overcome their boundaries, but it is effective in battling certain effects of anergia.

Sometimes, if the cause does not appear to be psychological, blood tests will be ordered to test if there is an issue such as anemia.

If the anergia persists, occasionally stimulants will be prescribed to aid in returning to healthy levels of energy. Normally, these will coincide with other medications or treatments.

Aside from medication, certain lifestyle changes, such as a healthier diet or regular exercise, can also aid in relieving anergia. Exercise can reduce lethargy by helping you sleep at night. When you are naturally tired out during the day, your sleep routines will become more regular, which fights against anergia. This exercise does not even have to be particularly difficult - you can pick your favorite! Just thirty minutes of boosting your heart rate per day are proven to offer significant benefits. However, don't take your jog near bedtime - refrain from exercising too close to the time you plan to sleep, as it will energize you at the wrong time and disrupt your sleep cycle.

Reducing fat in your diet can help keep you active. Amp up your healthy carbs to stay energized. Plus, make sure you're getting whole grains, vegetables, and fruits (and stay away from the unhealthy carbs - pasta, candy, soda, etc.) Also, make sure you're eating at regular times throughout the day and refrain from eating too close to bedtime, as it can disrupt your sleep. Of course, don't consume caffeine when it affects you during your sleep (usually, within six hours).

Sometimes activities as simple as spending time with friends and family, going outside, or playing a game can offer bursts of energy that, if done often enough, will offer relief from anergia.

Your sleep habits themselves play a big role as well. Do not use your computer or phone right before sleeping, and make sure your room is dark and quiet.


Getting Help

Interested in learning more about anergia? If you think you might be suffering from the condition, feel free to talk to one of our many counselors online at They can help you analyze the condition, what it's being caused by, and how you can treat it.

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