The Relationship Between Sleep And Mental Health
Its no secret that sleep plays an important role in good physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling irritable and exhausted in the short-term, but it can also have serious long-term health consequences as well. Lack of sleep is linked to a number of unfavorable health consequences including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and depression.
Some psychiatric conditions can cause sleep problems, and sleep disturbances can also exacerbate the symptoms of many mental conditions including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
Research suggests that the relationship between sleep and mental health is complex. While sleep has long been known to be a consequence of many psychiatric conditions, more recent views suggest that sleep can also play a causal role in both the development and maintenance of different mental health problems.
In other words, sleep problems can lead to changes in mental health, but mental health conditions can also worsen problems with sleep. Lack of sleep may trigger the onset of certain psychological conditions, although researchers are not completely certain of the underlying reasons for this. Because of this circular relationship between your sleep patterns and your mental state, it is important to talk to your doctor if you are having problems falling or staying asleep.
What Causes Problems With Sleep
The things that affect our sleep differ for everyone. They can include:
- stresses or worries for example, issues with money, housing or work
- problems with where you sleep for example, if you sleep somewhere uncomfortable or you’re easily disturbed
- health conditions relating to sleep, also known as sleep disorders
- being a parent or carer
“It’s not possible to relax if you don’t have anywhere comfortable and safe at night. This leads to not sleeping and worrying most of the night.”
If problems with sleep are worrying you or affecting your day to day life, it’s a good idea to see a doctor who can give you a health check and help you access treatment and support. If you fill in a sleep diary, you could take this to your appointment to show your doctor.
“My sleep problems are more a case of bedtime procrastination than insomnia as such and, as a consequence, being too tired the next morning. I still haven’t found out what works for me as I can get to sleep once I do get to bed.”
What Are The Symptoms Of Depression And How Is It Diagnosed
The NHS recommends that you should see your GP if you experience symptoms of depression for most of the day, every day, for more than 2 weeks.
Doctors make decisions about diagnosis based on manuals. The manual used by NHS doctors is the International Classification of Diseases .
When you see a doctor they will look for the symptoms that are set out in the ICD-10 guidance. You do not have to have all of these to be diagnosed with depression. You might have just experience some of them.
Some symptoms of depression are:
- low mood, feeling sad, irritable or angry,
- having less energy to do certain things,
- losing interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy,
- reduced concentration,
You may also find that with low mood you:
- feel less pleasure from things,
- feel more agitated,
- find your thoughts and movements slow down, and
- have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Your doctor should also ask about any possible causes of depression. For example, they may want to find out if youve experienced anything traumatic recently which could be making you feel this way.
There are no physical tests for depression. But the doctors may do some tests to check if you have any physical problems. For example, an underactive thyroid can cause depression.
On the NHS website, they have a self-assessment test which can help you to assess whether you are living with depression: www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/clinical-depression/overview/
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Tip : Eat A Healthy Depression
What you eat has a direct impact on the way you feel. Some women find dietary modifications, nutritional supplements and herbal remedies can help aid in the relief of depression symptoms. These include:
Cutting back on salt, unhealthy fats, caffeine, sugar/refined carbs, and alcohol can help improve depression symptoms.
Not skipping meals. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours.
Boosting your B vitamins. Deficiencies in B vitamins such as folic acid and B-12 can trigger depression. To increase your intake, eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs. Vitamin B-6 along with calcium, magnesium, Vitamin E, and tryptophan have all been shown to benefit women suffering from PMDD.
Eating foods with Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in stabilizing mood. The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and tuna, or vegetarian options such as seaweed, flaxseed, and walnuts.
Making sure youre getting enough iron. Low iron levels can produce common depression symptoms like irritability, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. Iron rich foods to add to your diet include red meat, beans, leafy greens and dried fruit.
Adding herbal supplements may be helpful. Primrose oil and chaste tree berry have both been found to be effective in the treatment of PMDD.
Causes Of Depression In Women
Women report experiencing depression at much higher rates than men. This gender disparity may be explained by a number of social, biological, and hormonal factors that are specific to women.
Premenstrual problems. Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can cause the familiar symptoms of premenstrual syndrome , such as bloating, irritability, fatigue, and emotional reactivity. For some women, symptoms are severe and disabling and may warrant a diagnosis of premenstrual dysphoric disorder . PMDD is characterized by severe depression, irritability, and other mood disturbances beginning about 10 to 14 days before your period and improving within a few days of its start.
Pregnancy and infertility. The many hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can contribute to depression, particularly in women already at high risk. Other issues relating to pregnancy such as miscarriage, unwanted pregnancy, and infertility can also play a role in depression.
Postpartum depression. Its not uncommon for new mothers to experience the baby blues. This is a normal reaction that tends to subside within a few weeks. However, some women experience severe, lasting depression. This condition is called postpartum depression and is thought to be influenced, at least in part, by hormonal fluctuations.
Body image issues which increase in girls during the sexual development of puberty may contribute to depression in adolescence.
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Adjust Your Current Treatment Plan
Another form of help can come from a mental health professional. They can assist with medications, techniques, or alternative therapies. If youre unable to get out of bed and do your day-to-day activities, then its probably time to adjust or switch your treatment plan.
Even if you know your medications are causing your sleepy side effects, you dont have to persevere just because its mentioned on the label. Dont feel like its silly to tell your healthcare provider that the effects are bothering you. They can discuss adjusting the dosage or the timing of when you take them.
For example, if a medication is activating, your doctor may recommend taking it first thing in the morning. This can help you get up and help you avoid insomnia.
Pro tip: Water yourself!
Since I need water to help the medication go down, I like to keep a glass of water by my bed. This helps me get rid of any excuse to not take meds, especially when I dont want to get up. Plus, a sip of water will really help wake the body up.
However, for medications with sedating effects, make sure to only take them at night before bed. Many times, people may take a medication in the morning and find theyre exhausted, not realizing its having a sedating effect.
How To Tell If You Have Clinical Depression
Clinical depression affects people in different ways.
The symptoms of clinical depression can be complex and vary from person-to-person.
Generally, if you have clinical depression:
- you feel sad, hopeless and lose interest in things you used to enjoy
- you experience these symptoms for at least 2 weeks
- the symptoms are serious enough to interfere with work, social life or family
There are many other symptoms of clinical depression and you’re unlikely to have them all.
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Do You Have A Shift Work Sleep Disorder
Oversleeping is not only an issue among young people with depression. Among older adults, symptoms of insomnia may be more common. But many older adults also experience hypersomnia in connection with depression. Women, in particular, may be more likely to oversleep and feel excessively tired during the day if they are depressed.
Its also important to remember that among people with depression, sleep difficulties often take shifting, variable forms. People with depression may experience symptoms of both insomnia and hypersomnia. A 2014 study investigated how often insomnia and hypersomnia occur together in adults with depression in the U.S. Scientists found that more than 27 percent have whats known as co-occurring insomnia and hypersomnia. They also found some other striking, shared characteristics. People with depression who demonstrated both insomnia and hypersomnia had:
- More severe depression.
- Higher rates of impulse control disorder.
- Greater likelihood of drug use disorder.
These people were also more likely to be receiving mental health treatment and more likely to be taking .
Another study released just this year found that among people whod received a diagnosis of major depression, slightly less than one-third had both insomnia and hypersomnia. These people were at two to three times greater risk for bipolar disorder, according to the study.
When oversleeping is a symptom of a sleep disorder
Other causes of oversleeping:
Being overweight or obese.
How To Feel Better Tip : Reach Out For Social Support
You can make a huge dent in your depression with simple but powerful self-help steps. Feeling better takes time and effort when you dont feel like making an effort. But you can get there if you make positive choices for yourself each day and draw on the support of others.
Getting support from people who care about you plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. When youre depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate, while an irritable mood brought on by depression can cause you to lash out over situations that wouldnt normally bother you, further distancing you from others.
Ask for the help and support you need and share what youre going through with the people you love and trust. You may have neglected your most treasured relationships, but they can get you through this tough time. If you dont feel that you have anyone to confide in, you can find help to build new friendshipseven if youre shy or introverted.
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Depression Acts On Neurotransmitters To Make You Tired
Depression is likely associated with changes in brain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. âThese neurotransmitters play important roles in regulating energy levels, sleep, appetite, motivation, and pleasure,â Ricke says.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, depression is a complex disease with many possible and interlinked causes, including genetics, medical conditions, stressful life events, and brain chemistry. And it can be challenging to tell the difference between everyday tiredness and depression-related fatigue.
âFatigue and depression can look quite similar,â says Alex Dimitriu, MD, psychiatrist and sleep medicine expert, and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine.
What Is The Treatment For Depression
Talk therapy or psychotherapy .
Lifestyle changes .
Complementary therapies .
One or more prescription medicines.
It is not uncommon to use more than one type of treatment. For example, a person may establish a regular exercise routine, start seeing a therapist, and begin taking antidepressant medicine.
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Severities Of Clinical Depression
Clinical depression can often come on gradually. So it can be difficult to notice when something is wrong. You might try to cope with the symptoms without realising you’re unwell. It can sometimes take a friend or family member to suggest something is wrong.
The severity of clinical depression depends on how much impact it has on your daily life:
- mild clinical depression has some impact
- moderate clinical depression has a significant impact
- severe clinical depression almost impossible to get through daily life
You can have clinical depression and other mental health disorders. For example, anxiety, psychosis or other difficulties.
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:
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Plan For Days Like This
Bad days happen. If you know that mornings can be a struggle, make a plan for those rough days when youre feeling better. That might look like keeping a special cereal in the pantry, saving a favorite shirt to wear on a down day, or buying a new shampoo that smells irresistibly good.
Always have something youre excited about and looking forward to, which will help push you through those times you cant get moving, says Saranga.
What You Can Do To Feel Better
When youre depressed, it can feel like theres no light at the end of the tunnel. But there are many things you can do to lift and stabilize your mood. The key is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there, trying to do a little more each day. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there by making positive choices for yourself.
Reach out to other people. Isolation fuels depression, so reach out to friends and loved ones, even if you feel like being alone or dont want to be a burden to others. The simple act of talking to someone face-to-face about how you feel can be an enormous help. The person you talk to doesnt have to be able to fix you. They just need to be a good listenersomeone wholl listen attentively without being distracted or judging you.
Get moving. When youre depressed, just getting out of bed can seem daunting, let alone exercising. But regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in countering the symptoms of depression. Take a short walk or put some music on and dance around. Start with small activities and build up from there.
Eat a mood boosting diet. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, sugar and refined carbs. And increase mood-enhancing nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids.
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Understanding Depression In Women
Depression can impact every area of a womans lifeincluding your physical health, social life, relationships, career, and sense of self-worthand is complicated by factors such as reproductive hormones, social pressures, and the unique female response to stress. However, its important to know that youre not alone. Women are about twice as likely as men to suffer from depression but depression is treatable and there are plenty of things you can do to make yourself feel better.
Of course, the Catch-22 of depression is that feeling better requires action but taking action when youre depressed is difficult. However, while you may not have much energy, you probably have enough to take a short walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one, for exampleand that can be a great start to boosting your mood and improving your outlook. Its important to also learn about the factors that cause depression in women so you can tackle the condition head on, treat your depression most effectively, and help prevent it from coming back.
Signs Of Depression In Teens And Young Adults
Teenagers can also experience depression, but it may be difficult for their caregivers to recognize the symptoms, and many cases go undiagnosed and untreated.Signs of depression in teens and young adults may differ somewhat to those in adults, and may include the following:
- Seeming annoyed by everything and everyone
- Being argumentative and picking fights
- Responding to minor provocations with emotional outbursts
- A much stronger than usual need for social connection and social validation
- Promiscuity, substance abuse and risky behaviors
- Difficulties with school work
- Sleep disturbances, particularly sleeping too much
Other, more typical signs of depression, such as fatigue and loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable, are very often present. It is important to distinguish normal teenage behaviors from teen depression. Significant changes in mood, together with changes in functioning, like serious social or school problems, indicate that a healthcare professional should be consulted.
If a teenager shows signs of suicidal thoughts or actions, it is vital to take these seriously, and it is of the utmost importance to call a healthcare professional or suicide prevention hotline without delay.
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