I’m tired of living: causes and what to do to get back to normal

Most people want to live. Whether they are in a moment of sadness or in a vital moment of maximum splendor and joy, almost everyone wants to enjoy the days left to them, which should be as many and gracious as possible.

however, some people find themselves in a situation where the desire to continue seems to have diminished or even disappeared. They say they are tired of living. But what does someone who claims to be tired of living mean? Where does this fatigue come from?

Throughout this article we will try to give some answers to these questions.

    Tired of living: what are we talking about?

    It is possible to define the feeling of being tired of living as (or fatigue or vital fatigue) as the loss of physical, mental and emotional strength and energy which requires the will to stay alive, which is not due to the disease effect and which is not the result of a particular experience.

    While the feeling of exhaustion and fatigue and loss of motivation is quite common after situations of great emotional pain, life fatigue goes beyond that: involves the cessation or reduction of the desire to continue living, a situation in which thoughts of death usually appear or seeing it as something desirable. It is fatigue and fatigue that generally persist over time.

    Although in some cases it is not inherently pathological (consideration of what life or death means may vary depending on individual culture and vision), it is usually strongly associated with depressive symptomatology.


    In fact, life-threatening fatigue is linked to very common symptoms in depressive cases and disorders, and it’s usually hidden behind some type of depressive syndrome: The onset of anhedonia or the inability to feel pleasure or enjoyment of activities we used to do and abuse or unwillingness to act are common elements of both fatigue of life and depressive disorders, as well as thoughts of death.

    In addition, one of the most relevant aspects associated with fatigue in life is hopelessness, in which the future is not expected to bring something better or directly, we are not seen as having a significant role.

    It is more common than feelings and thoughts of life fatigue in the very old, Although cases are sometimes found in young individuals. These are often people who are racking up personal losses or who no longer have something that allows them to feel grounded in the world, or who suffer from a history of pain and suffering that they are unable to unravel. Sometimes it’s a very thoughtful feeling or sensation on the part of the one manifesting it, and it’s not the product of a sudden emotional outburst.

    The presence of fatigue or vital fatigue can lead to an active search for suicide, being a relevant risk factor. Now, not always someone who claims to be tired of living wants to die. In fact, this situation could often be reversed if the person found a role, role, or reason that would cause them to relate to and actively participate in the world, or if they could change the pain they are feeling (that they are feeling). either physical or mental). .

    Possible causes

    As stated above, in most cases, they can find typical symptoms of syndromes and depressive disorders. One of the most common is major depression, in which sadness and anhedonia alongside hopelessness, passivity, and thoughts of death and suicide (among other possible symptoms) generate clinically significant discomfort for those who experience it. suffer or alter it. weeks.

    In addition to major depression, another disorder that can be deeply linked to the onset of this vital fatigue is dysthymia, also known as persistent depressive disorder. Continuity of symptoms (less severe than those of major depression but which persist almost daily for at least two years), can lead to persistent and prolonged fatigue and vital fatigue over time.

    And it is that even if they do not meet the diagnostic criteria of these depressive disorders or others, the symptoms can exist subindromic. Most people who are tired of living have a deep sense of hopelessness and uprooting. Many of them feel detached from the world or consider that their role has already passed and they find no reason to anchor them in life, to which despair joins them and not seeing the possibility that this pattern exists.

    Some people have found themselves in this situation due to the experience of traumatic situations (as happened in the case of the young Dutch teenager who died in 2019 after quitting eating and drinking, a product of her desire to ‘stop living after having suffered several assaults since the age of eleven).

    Others are in a delicate vital moment in which they have lost their abilities and have seen all or much of their environment (family of origin, partner, friendships and sometimes even offspring) die, losing most of what they have. they have. this world.

    Another of the most common causes of life-threatening fatigue is continued pain, the presence of a terminal illness without expectation of recovery or progressive loss of capacity. Examples of this are found in cancers and dementias, where waiting for a painful process with no options for improvement or the loss of skills and abilities caused by degeneration can lead people into this situation.

    What to do?

    Fatigue of life is a serious problem because it causes great suffering to those who suffer from it. Transactions can be very complex and can be conducted from a multidisciplinary approach. In many cases, treatment can be major depression or dysthymia.

    1. Psychological treatment

    At the psychological level, aspects such as the beliefs of the person, the meaning of life and death, life expectancy or the vision of the future must be worked on.

    If we are faced with dysfunctional elements, it is possible to use techniques like cognitive restructuring to modify cognitive biases and maladaptive beliefs that can be the root cause of life fatigue. It is also helpful to help shape goals, both short and long term, that are meaningful and relevant to the individual. In this way, the need arises to work on the vital project of the individual, as well as on his values, his desires and his plans for the future.

    It will also be possible to work on situations such as loneliness or the presence of illness while helping to analyze the personal situation and make decisions when needed. Pharmacologically, the administration of antidepressants can help reduce feelings of sadness and anhedonia.

    2. Intervention in the social context

    Another type of action has to do with the socio-cultural and political context, working on some of the socio-cultural problems that make them appear and cause despair and that a large part of the people tired of living are: the lack of social visibility of the populations like the elderly population, loneliness, no role or role to play or the perpetuation of a liquid social model, with few references and unstable values.

    New policies must be put in place to give visibility to invisible parts of society, As different minorities or members of the elderly increasingly widespread. Educating to more stable values ​​and generating referents in different vital moments can be very helpful, as well as providing desirable roles and roles to be fulfilled in different ages.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Arroll, B., Khin, N., and Kerse, N. (2003). Detection of depression in primary care with two questions asked verbally: study transverse. British medical journal.
    • Blazer, DG, Kessler, RC, McGonagle, KA and Swartz, MS (1994). The prevalence and distribution of major depression in a national community sample: the national co-morbidity survey. I am J. Psychiat.
    • Rubinow, DR, Schmidt, PJ & Roca, CA (1998). Estrogen-serotonin interactions: implications for affective regulation. Biological psychiatry.
    • Torralba, F. (2017). Vital fatigue. A philosophical exploration. Bioethics and Debate, 23 (82).
    • Whooley, MA and Browner, WS (1998). Association between depressive symptoms and mortality in older women. Arch Intern Med.

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