What Is Depression?
Depression can be described as feelings of sadness, defeat, or hopelessness. While these types of feelings are sometimes a natural response to life events, they shouldn’t be the state you’re in on a regular basis.
When your feelings of sadness and hopelessness feel overwhelming, or when they persist for multiple days, nearly every day for more than two weeks, you may have a depressive disorder. This is a mood disorder that can affect your daily life and your normal sleep habits.
Depression and anxiety are the two most common mood disorders.
Who Suffers From It?
Anyone can suffer from depression. It’s one of the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses. Depression symptoms can range in severity from person to person. Some people may have more mild or moderate depression that they feel they can manage, while others may have severe depression that causes them significant obstacles in their daily lives.
Different Types of Depression
Depression is an all-encompassing term for the mood disorder, but there are specific types of depression that can be categorized based on the symptoms and feelings someone is having.
- Major depressive disorder: This is one of the more common types of depression. Someone with major depressive disorder will have symptoms of depression every day for long periods of the day. Those with major depressive disorder will often have sleep problems as well.
- Persistent depressive disorder: This is more commonly referred to as chronic depression and is characterized by the length of time someone has depression. Someone with chronic depression will have symptoms for at least two years or more and won’t go symptom-free for more than two months at a time.
- Premenstrual depressive disorder: Premenstrual depressive disorder typically brings on symptoms of depression one or two weeks before a menstrual period. These symptoms will often subside a few days after the period is over.
- Seasonal affective disorder: Seasonal depression will typically last a few months out of the year, during a specific season. Seasonal affective disorder is most common in winter, when socializing is more difficult, the weather is colder, and individuals can’t get as much sun and outdoor time.
How It Relates to Sleep
Depression is frequently correlated to sleep problems. Sleep issues are common in almost all cases of depression and can occur with any type of depression.
These two conditions can feed into each other as well. Those with sleep problems may be at higher risk of depression, and those with depression will likely suffer from sleep problems. As symptoms for one worsen, the same tends to happen for the other.
The most common sleep symptom that is associated with depression is insomnia, when it becomes more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. Depression may also cause people to spend too much time in bed, throwing off normal sleep patterns and making it difficult to stick to a healthy sleep schedule.
When you are able to manage and treat your depression, you will also likely see improvement in the amount of sleep you get and the quality of your sleep.
What Are the Causes?
The exact cause of depression is unknown, but there are factors that can increase your risk for developing the condition. These factors include genetics, stressful life events or traumas, side effects from medications, symptoms of certain medical conditions, and lack of sleep.
Family medical history is a very common link to depression. Many people who develop the condition may have a direct relative who also developed depression.
What Are the Symptoms?
Various symptoms of depression involve emotional or physical distress.
You may have depression if you experience the following symptoms:
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Feelings of sadness or feeling low
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating on daily tasks
- No desire to participate in normal activities
- Low appetite
- Insomnia and oversleeping
- Decreased energy
- Thoughts of suicide
Depression can happen at nearly any age and is more common in women. You may experience different symptoms than someone else with depression.
How to Overcome Sadness
While depression can feel overwhelming, fortunately, it’s very treatable, and symptoms can be managed. It’s a good idea to talk with a doctor or a mental health specialist about your depression to determine a good course of action for treatment.
Your treatment may include the following.
- Therapy: Therapy can be an effective treatment for depression. Depending on the individual, certain types of therapy may be more effective than others. Cognitive behavioral therapy is commonly recommended for those with depression and insomnia. This form of therapy helps you to reorient negative thought processes and form better thinking habits.
- Medications: In some cases, your doctor or therapist may recommend medications to help you manage your depression symptoms. Antidepressants are a common treatment for depression, and they can help you mitigate the symptoms of your depression as you get better. Not all medications will be the right fit, so you may need to cycle through a few options. Make sure to talk with your doctor about medication.
- Other therapies: There are less common options that people try to treat their depression if medication and therapy aren’t working. Things like electroconvulsive therapy and vagus nerve stimulation have provided good results for some people, but they must be administered by a professional.
- Support network: Depression is common and nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family, and other loved ones for support.
- Patience: Treatment may take time. Be patient and stick to your doctor’s recommendations, and you will see your symptoms lessen gradually.
- If you have thoughts of suicide: Reach out to someone or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This is a free service that provides 24/7 support.
Since insomnia and other sleep problems are often experienced in tandem with depression, it’s a good idea to form good sleep habits and work on your sleep hygiene as part of your treatment. Quality sleep can also help to reduce your symptoms of depression. Here are some things you can try to get better, healthier sleep.
- Regulate naps: When you have depression, you may feel like you want to lie in bed and nap more often. Make sure that you avoid that temptation and that if you have to nap, you keep naps to 10 to 20 minutes and avoid them in the late afternoon.
- Get on a sleep schedule: When you have depression, you may want to stay in bed longer than normal. Instead, you should try to stick to a sleep schedule. Ideally, adults need anywhere from 6 to 9 hours of sleep, depending on the individual. Try to go to sleep and get out of bed at the same time every day.
- Limit alcohol intake: Alcohol may actually contribute to feelings of depression if you become inebriated. If you want to have a drink or two at the end of the day, that's okay, but make sure it is 4 hours or more before bedtime. Drinking too close to bedtime can cause sleep disruptions. Also, if you’re on medications, it’s important to check to see if it’s recommended to avoid alcohol when on your medications.
- Get some natural light: Natural light helps to attune your body’s circadian rhythm, helping you get better sleep. Also, sunlight and the outdoors can help boost mood, which may help to reduce your depression symptoms.
- Exercise: Exercise is great for both depression and your sleep schedule. Depression can act as a natural way to alleviate symptoms of depression, and it puts your body in a state where it will crave sleep later on. If you exercise outdoors, you can get your natural light and exercise at the same time. Make sure you don’t exercise too close to bedtime, as the added energy can make falling asleep difficult.
- Avoid your sleep environment until bedtime: When you’re depressed, you may want to lie in bed all day. Make sure to only use your bedroom for sleep and sex so you can create a positive association.
- Try relaxation techniques: It’s a good idea to get out of your head and focus on mindfulness techniques before bed. You can try guided meditations, breathing exercises, and other relaxation techniques to prepare your body and mind for sleep.
- Avoid caffeine in the evening and at night: If you have insomnia from your depression, you’ll want to avoid any late-night stimulants that could keep you up later than necessary. Try to limit caffeine intake to the morning and early afternoon.
- Try a positive sleep routine: Make sleep something that you look forward to at night. Pick some relaxing activities that you do an hour before bed, so you can wind down for the day and get your body and mind ready to go to sleep. This may include things like reading a favorite book or taking a warm bath.
You don’t have to face your depression alone, and you don’t have to form new sleep habits on your own either. Sleep Reset can help!
Take Our Sleep Quiz Today
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