How To Cope With Anxiety And Depression When You Don’t Have Energy

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jerry Crimmins, PsyD, LP
Updated April 4, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Both depression and anxiety can leave you feeling like you have no energy. You may feel fatigued, have physical pain, and could experience low (or complete lack of) motivation. It can be difficult to distinguish between anxiety vs depression since they have some common symptoms, but understanding the key differences can help you decide when to seek treatment for one or both. Even if you want to experience a positive change in your life, you may feel like you don’t have the energy to make it happen. The tricky part is those feelings might not just go away on their own. So, how do you cope with anxiety and depression if you don’t feel that you have the energy to do so?

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Symptoms of anxiety and depression 

Before learning how to cope with anxiety or depression, it can be important to discover whether that is in fact what is causing your low motivation. There are several different types of anxiety disorders and depression disorders. However, both anxiety and depression have some common symptoms, and many people who struggle with depression or anxiety end up struggling with the other as well—known as comorbidity. Learning how to recognize the symptoms of depression and anxiety can be one of the first steps in getting help. Some of the common symptoms of anxiety and depression include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or negativity
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Decreased energy level or feeling exhausted and tired
  • Lack of motivation and decreased productivity
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, chronic pain, or digestive issues
If you’re feeling off and you can’t quite pinpoint why, reach out to your physician or mental health professional to discuss the symptoms that you’re dealing with. Once you receive a diagnosis from a medical provider, you can begin to take steps toward healing.

How to cope with anxiety and depression

The following tips may help you address low motivation caused by anxiety or depression.


Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing can be an effective form of treatment for both anxiety and depression. It can help lower your heart rate and blood pressure and allow you to regain your focus.

Deep breathing also increases the amount of oxygen that you’re taking in, which can improve circulation in your body. This can help to increase your energy levels.

While there are several different types of deep breathing techniques, you don’t need a specific strategy to find benefits. You can simply focus on taking slow deep breaths in through your nose, holding for a few seconds, and then slowly breathing out through your mouth.

Develop a sleep schedule

Anxiety and depression can negatively impact your sleep schedule. You may find that you’re sleeping more than usual and still feeling exhausted. Or you may find that you struggle to get any sleep. Either way, you might end up feeling tired and not having the motivation you need to make other improvements in your life. 

Working to get on a healthier sleep schedule may address this problem. Most adults should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and wake at the same time each morning. This can help your body adjust to the new routine.

You may also find it helpful to create a healthy environment for sleeping. This could include keeping the temperature cool, keeping the room dark, and using white noise like a fan to block out any other sounds. If you struggle with falling asleep, you may benefit from trying a meditation app that can help you relax as you fall asleep.

Set some simple goals for the day

If you lack the motivation you need to get important tasks done throughout the day, you may start to get frustrated. Instead of working toward big, long-term goals, you might find it helpful to set small goals that you can focus on each day. 

Depending on the impact that depression and anxiety are having on you, these goals can be straightforward, such as making your bed when you wake up or eating lunch at a certain time of the day. When you start to reach these small victories, it can help you feel more energized to tackle slightly larger tasks.

Pay attention to what you’re eating

The food you eat can have an impact on the way you feel and your motivation levels. Many people turn to caffeine or sugary drinks and snacks if they start to feel tired. However, instead of energizing your body, you may find that this type of eating causes you to crash at certain times of the day. You can avoid these sugar crashes by maintaining a nutritious diet. 

Turn to your support system

It can be helpful to build a strong support system. This could be made up of family and friends, or you could join a support group of others that are going through similar experiences. Either way, it’s helpful to be surrounded by those who care about you. 


If you feel like you don’t have a lot of motivation, exercising may be the last thing on your mind. However, it can boost your mood and help you to feel more energized.

When you engage in physical activity, it releases chemicals in your brain that can help boost your mood. It also helps prepare your body for taking action, and you don’t have to be engaged in a rigorous exercise regimen to benefit from this. 

So, if you feel like you don’t have the energy to do the things that you need to, going for a simple walk may be able to help turn things around for you. Research shows that walking can help decrease depression.

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Go outside

You may not have the motivation to tackle your to-do list for the day or jump into a workout, but even just going outside can help improve your energy levels. You may even notice a decrease in depression when you start spending more time outdoors.

Write in a journal

Taking time to write down your thoughts and concerns in a journal may allow you to ease some of the depression or anxiety-related thoughts that you have running through your mind. Sometimes, writing things down helps take the thoughts out of your mind. When you spend less of your time worrying, you may find that you have more motivation to do the other things you enjoy doing. You can always write something down and come back to it later. 

Speak with a mental health professional

If you believe that you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, it can be helpful to speak with a medical or mental health professional. Your doctor or a psychiatrist can talk to you about medications that may be able to help with depression, for example. This is not always the most effective solution for everyone, so it’s essential to speak with a medical provider that you trust.

Outside of medication for depression, licensed therapists can help you process your feelings and equip you with new coping strategies that may help you regain some motivation. You can get therapy in person or online, whichever is most convenient for your needs. 

If you’re feeling low energy, it may be more convenient to meet with an online therapist from the comfort of your home. Platforms like BetterHelp can connect you with a licensed therapist in your state that can meet with you via text, phone, or videoconference – whichever works most effectively for you. 

One study found that internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was effective in reducing “symptoms of anxiety and depression.” Participants not only had fewer symptoms of depression, but they also experienced a reduction in their symptom severity and less psychological distress.


Depression and anxiety can both leave you feeling a lack of energy. If you’re feeling drained and unmotivated, there are several tips that can help boost energy. You may find that you need to use a combination of the strategies above and others to experience true change in the way that you’re feeling. If the first thing that you try doesn’t work, don’t give up. Different combinations of treatments are useful for different people. Additionally, feeling tired is a common symptom of many illnesses and mental health conditions—this is another reason why you may find it helpful to work with a professional in trying to determine what works best for you. Talk to your doctor or contact a mental health practitioner to begin overcoming your fatigue.

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