How Does Depression Affect Your Sleep
Theres been an increasing focus on mental health during the past few years and not without good reason:
- In the UK, one in four people is likely to experience a mental health problem each year in England alone
- One in six people will be unfortunate enough for that problem to be depression, anxiety or a combination of the two.
The impact of these disorders can be crippling, with the adverse effects impacting upon every aspect of daily life.
Therefore, if youre reading this and think you may be suffering from depression or anxiety, we urge you to seek help as soon as possible
Sleep is just one of the aspects of your life affected by depression.
As we know from the literature, the extensive number of articles on the subject and relevant websites, a good nights sleep benefits health, mental ability and mood. This means that:
Signs Of Depression You Shouldnt Ignore
Many of us have fallen into a slump since the pandemic began. Significant changes in our lives can lead to situational depressive episodes, or worsen existing depression. Whether its directly related to current circumstances or something more longstanding, depression symptoms can cause major life disruptions. Here are common symptoms of depression as well as resources and ways to support a friend or loved one who is struggling.
Sleeping All The Time
Dogs sleep a lot. Thats old news. But typically this happens when their owners are gone. If you leave your dog for a long time and he continues to sleep after you get home, barely reacting to your presence, something is probably wrong.
Check for physical problems first, but if you cant find anything and the symptoms continue, he may be depressed. Also know that this can work in the opposite direction, with your pup having trouble sleeping and becoming restless.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Depression
The symptoms of depression can include physical changes as well as changes in moods and thoughts that interfere with normal daily activities. Symptoms may include:
- Persistent sad, low, or irritable mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Insomnia, waking up too early, or oversleeping
- Low appetite or overeating
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression is more common in women and there may be differences in the symptoms of depression based on sex and age. Men often experience symptoms such as irritability and anger, whereas women more frequently experience sadness and guilt. Adolescents with depression may be irritable and have trouble in school, and younger children may pretend to be sick or worry that a parent may die.
What Is Causing Me To Feel Depressed
There are a number of factors that can increase the likelihood of developing depression. These include the following:
- Going through a stressful experience like a divorce, bereavement, difficulties at work, abuse or social isolation
- Alcohol or drug use
- Suffering from chronic physical health conditions such as cancer
- Having a family history of depression or mental health conditions
- Having a history of other mental health conditions
Its important to remember that depression can occur for many reasons and there are many triggers.
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Oversleeping Helps Me Escape Depression
For as long as I can remember, I have always been someone who needs a lot of sleep. Bouts of depression exacerbate this trait. During my major depressive episodes, I could sleep upwards of 18 hours a day. When I woke up, I wanted more. The more I got, the more I wanted the more I needed. It was like an addictive drug. It was also like a veil over the pain I was feeling.
Like no other symptom of depression, sleep helped me escape from all the others. It was so easy, too. Just close my eyes and drift away. No pain. Total avoidance. Which is why this was the hardest symptom for me to combat.
Incidence Of Sleep Symptoms In Depression
Symptoms of disturbed night-time sleep in people with depression have been described extensively in both clinical and epidemiological studies. In clinical samples, difficulty in initiating or maintaining sleep or both have been reported in about three quarters of all depressed patients., In epidemiological samples examining insomnia symptoms and depression, sleep symptoms occurred in 50% to 60% in a sample of young adults aged 21 to 30. In a UK population sample , the incidence of insomnia symptoms in a wide age range of patients with depression increased with age. Overall, 83% of depressed patients had at least one insomnia symptom, compared with 36% who did not have depression. This varied from 77% in the 16-to-24-year age group to 90% in the 55-to-64-year age group. When the authors looked at the value of sleep symptoms as a screening aid for depression, the proportion of participants with depression who reported symptoms of insomnia sufficient to warrant a diagnosis of insomnia was 41%, and the proportion without depression and without a diagnosis was 96%. This supports the statement mentioned above that diagnosing depression without sleep complaints needs care.
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Each Person Responds Differently To Antidepressants
The journey for each person is unique:
It often takes weeks to feel the full effects.
Your doctor may start you at a low dose and slowly increase it.
It may be necessary to try different antidepressants to find the one that works best with the fewest side effects.
Antidepressants may be prescribed in combination with each other or other medicines and supplements to help treat depression.
Take Sleep Problems Seriously
You should tell your doctor if you:
- have trouble falling or staying asleep
- feel tired during the day
- have physical pain, discomfort or other complaints that prevent you from getting a good nights sleep
Treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia and continuous positive airway pressure devices for apnea can restore good sleep, helping you sidestep related conditions like depression.
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How Depression Impacts Daily Life
Living with depression on a day-to-day basis can have a significant impact on quality of life. In addition to the low mood and persistent feelings of sadness, depression can leave the individual feeling unwell. This combination of symptoms will often result in reduced functioning at work and at home.
Sleep disruptions, including sleeping too much or sleeping too little, will wreak havoc with concentration, energy and stamina, memory functions, appetite, and can further intensify feelings of despair. When depression causes a person to literally not want to get out of bed all day it can cause a domino effect in all other realms. Hypersomnia may even lead to excessive absences at work and declining work performance overall.
Excessive sleeping also has a negative impact on the family dynamic. When mom or dad is holed up in bed the children who are depending on the parent may not have access to the care they deserve. This places more pressure on the well parent to take up the extra burden, which can have an effect on the relationship. Eventually, the impact of depression will touch all aspects of life.
Regularly Sleeping Too Long May Indicate A Health Problem
We get it: Sleep is good for us. The National Sleep Foundation regularly campaigns to celebrate the health benefits of sleep, and experts have been boosting sleeps values as no less important than proper diet and exercise.
Insufficient sleep has been linked to stroke, obesity and heart disease. But sleeping too much may also be risky: It, too, is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and obesity, not to mention diabetes and depression.
So, how much is too much? And if youre sleep-deprived during the week, does sleeping 10 or 11 hours on Saturday and Sunday to catch up put you in any jeopardy?
Most experts say that a healthy amount of sleep for an adult is a regular seven to nine hours a night. And the operative term here is regular, meaning the issue isnt the college kid who power-sleeps 15 hours on vacation to catch up from too much studying .
When scientists refer to long sleepers, theyre referring to people who consistently sleep nine or more hours a night, says Kristen Knutson, a biomedical anthropologist who focuses on sleep research at the University of Chicagos Department of Medicine.
Middleton still sometimes feels self-conscious about it, as though shes somehow a slacker. People say, I wish I could do that, but I have so much to do at night, she says. But its just a nonnegotiable part of her schedule.
Ianzito is a freelance journalist in Washington.
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You Just Want To Be Alone
If you’re on your third game of Monopoly with the family and you desperately want to curl up in bed and read a book in silence for a few minutes, it’s totally understandable. All this time at home with your family can be overwhelming, and sometimes a few moments by yourself will help you recharge. But if you feel yourself disengaging from people you love and seeking solitude in an unhealthy way, it may be a sign of a mental health issue.
A study conducted by the Danish National Institute of Public Health analyzed the symptoms of depression in older adults. “We identified two significant longitudinal mediation patterns with symptoms of depression, and two with anxiety symptoms,” the researchers said. “Overall, social disconnectedness predicted higher subsequent perceived isolation, which in turn predicted higher depression symptoms and anxiety symptoms.” Alone time is precious right now, but if you find yourself purposely isolating yourself, you may be clinically depressed.
If you can relate to any of the signs above, it may be time to focus on your mental healthreach out for virtual help from a counselor. If you’re thinking about suicide, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. And to get through life at your healthiest, don’t miss:This Supplement Can Raise Your Cancer Risk, Experts Say.
Changes In Appetite And Weight
We all tend to overeat or feel loss of appetite from time to time. However, if it’s coupled with other symptoms, such as feeling depressed or losing interest and pleasure in usual or favorite activities for two weeks or more, it could be a sign of a depressive episode, according to Simon Rego, PsyD, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y. A weight gain of at least 5 percent of a person’s total body weight in a short period of time that causes significant distress may be considered part of depression, Dr. Rego says.
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Holistic Activities Complement Depression Treatment
Psychiatry has begun to embrace holistic therapies as complementary to traditional treatment modalities for depression, as these activities can help reduce stress and induce feelings of calm. Some of the holistic treatment elements include:
- Yoga. Yoga involves slow, purposeful physical poses with a focus on breathing. Yoga is known to promote relaxation and reduce stress while also strengthening and stretching muscles, and reducing blood pressure and heart rate.
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture uses tiny needles to open up energy paths in the body thought to assist in the improvement of mind-body connectedness and wellness.
- Meditation. Mindfulness meditation is also helpful in training the brain to focus purposefully on the present moment, taking in the various sensory stimuli and focusing on rhythmic breathing.
- Exercise. The positive effects of getting regular exercise are caused by the release of brain chemicals, such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.
- Aromatherapy. Certain essential oils have been found to relieve symptoms of depressed mood. These include jasmine, citrus oils, bergamot, and chamomile oils.
- Nutritional counseling. A diet rich in lean proteins, nuts and seeds, fresh vegetables and fruits, oily fish such as salmon, beans, and whole grains can significantly contribute to mental stability.
Getting Back On Track
If oversleeping is a symptom of depression, its most important to see a healthcare provider for treatment of that depression. And even if someone is being treated for depression, the sleep difficulties can be residual. Sleep can remain a struggle because its developed a life of its own and become very habitual, she says.
Dr. Drerup does have a few suggestions on how you can avoid falling into bad sleep habits that could exacerbate the sleep situation. These techniques can make a huge difference for people when they implement behavioral changes like this because the mood symptoms arent impairing them.
If people can get out of bed and get a more consistent start to their day, it can make their day better, Dr. Drerup says. They feel like they can be more productive and get more accomplished. And it can help improve their mood and allow them to make other changes over time that helps increase more pleasurable activities and engaging with people instead of the oversleeping and avoidance of interactions.
Hands off the snooze button
This may not be a popular idea given how much its a ritual for so many of us. But Dr. Drerup points out that repeatedly hitting the snooze button doesnt really help you. When you hit the snooze button and you doze for those short seven or eight minute increments, youre getting brief, fragmented sleep periods. You may think youre gradually becoming more alert but really youre developing sleep inertia and your body wants to stay asleep.
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The Rem Theory Of Sleep And Why Its Not Quite Right
Sleep consists of a number of stages, one of which is termed REM sleep. The REM stage of sleep is linked to dreaming. Strangely enough, when in REM sleep, our brain activity levels are similar to what they would be when weâre awake.
There are a few non-REM stages as well and the most important is slow-wave sleep. Thatâs the type of sleep we need to feel refreshed in the morning.
When we sleep, we alternate between REM and non-REM stages. But itâs been found that people living with depression spend a greater amount of their sleep time in the REM stages of sleep56. This altered sleep behaviour persists in people who have a history of depression but are not currently suffering an episode7.
This has led to the idea that increased REM sleep leads to depression. This is something youâll often see written on other sleep websites and in earlier scientific literature but it isnât strictly true.
A more helpful way to understand the sleep disturbances those with depression experience is to think of their sleep cycle being somewhat âshiftedâ. This disruption leads to mood disturbances like depression.
As a result of this âshiftâ it would seem that depressed populations experience less restorative slow-wave sleep during their time in bed, which may lead to a mood disturbance.
With this in mind, letâs consider what options there are for someone living with depression to improve their sleep.
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Its very important for people to be able to tolerate their feelings and practice healthy coping skills that combat depression, rather than succumbing to it, Farrell explained.
Emanuel Maidenberg, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, agreed such naps could be a coping mechanism, noting they could either be a symptom of low energy or a way for people to avoid hopeless or helpless thoughts.
It can be helpful in the short run, but recurrent dependence on naps becomes a potential mechanism of depression maintenance, he explained.
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Have A Strong Sleep Schedule
Having a regular predictable sleep schedule makes it much easier for your body to wake up and go to sleep each night.
Your natural sleep cycle works with your bodys natural processes to help you wake up in the morning. But if you wake up at different times each morning, your internal body clock has no way of calibrating itself to know when its the right time to wake up. If you dont even know what time youre going to wake up in the morning, your body clock has no chance!
If youve got a problem with oversleeping, it can be hard to imagine waking up full of energy in the morning. But once youve got a good sleep schedule, thats just what naturally happens.
Some people find it easier than others to stick to a regular sleep schedule. Just like some people are more prone to insomnia than others. But the concepts of sticking to a good sleep schedule are the same for everyone so its a skill you can master with a bit of practice.
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Oversleeping can be a real problem and the effects may be worse than you might have thought. Once youve cured it though, as long as you stick to the changes, oversleeping will be a thing of the past. If all else fails, you can always build yourself your own mega alarm clock like this guy.
You’re Obsessed With Perfection
If the threat of coronavirus has you scrubbing your kitchen counter until it shines every day, it’s understandable. But if you’ve suddenly developed an obsession with perfection that’s affecting your moods, there may be a deeper issue, and it could be a sign of depression.
According to Neurocore Brain Performance Centers, “For those with depression, perfectionism can stem from a cognitive distortion believing that making mistakes will cause others to stop loving or accepting them. This can lead these individuals to set exceptionally high standards, and if those standards aren’t met, they can end up feeling like a failure.” Your perfectionism and disappointment can make you spiral into a cycle of depression. If you’ve noticed this obsession with perfection, you may need to seek help from a counselor.
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