Depression and Insomnia
Sleep disorders are very common in people who struggle with depression. If you are clinically depressed, you may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or you may sleep too much. Depression and insomnia often occur at the same time, and it can be hard to determine whether depression is causing insomnia or if sleeping disturbances are causing depression.
Depression is caused by a variety of different factors, one of which may be not getting enough sleep. Sleep disturbances can intensify feelings of sadness, hopelessness and fatigue.
This is especially true when insomnia lasts for a long period of time. If you haven’t yet been diagnosed with depression but struggle with an inability to sleep that goes on for months or years, this may be an important clue that you are depressed.
Link Between Depression and Insomnia
There is a strong link between sleep problems and depression, and it’s common for a person who reports experiencing a frequent low mood to also report getting inadequate sleep. As many as three-fourths of depressed people have insomnia. If you are depressed, you may have difficulty falling asleep, wake up frequently during the night and have trouble going back to sleep once you’re awake. The next day you wake up feeling unrested, sluggish and probably more depressed. Untreated depression can cause physical symptoms such as headaches and backaches, and physical pain can affect the quality of your sleep.
The inability to sleep can have a huge impact on your quality of life. For many people with major depression, sleep disturbances are the first symptom that led them to seek professional help. When you are sleep deprived, it’s pretty hard to regulate your emotions. Your energy level is low, and it can be difficult to feel motivated to participate in activities that used to bring you pleasure. Continual difficulty sleeping can be so hard to live with that it can trigger suicidal tendencies.
How Symptoms of Depression Impact Sleep
Untreated depression can lead to overwhelming sadness, which can affect your ability to sleep. During the night, your mind may ruminate about things that are contributing to negative emotions including sadness, despair and hopelessness.
While you are lying in bed tossing and turning, the bad feelings you are having can seem much more impossible to deal with. And the more you focus on your uncomfortable emotions, the harder it is to sleep.
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The Impact of Insomnia
Sleep is necessary in order for your brain to function properly. When you don’t get enough restful sleep, it interferes with your energy level and mood. Sleep deprivation can cause many different problems such as:
- Morning grogginess
- Fatigue or lethargy throughout the day
- Inability to concentrate
- Slowed thought processes
- Difficulty making decisions
Some people are bothered by problems with insomnia before they realize that they are clinically depressed. People with insomnia are as much as 10 times as likely to develop depression as those who sleep well. The highest risk of developing depression is in those who have symptoms that include both difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep.
Treatment of Depression and Insomnia
Symptoms of depression and chronic insomnia are interrelated, and things you do to treat one may help the other. These conditions can also both make the other worse the longer they go on without treatment. Treatment for depression usually consists of medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. The overall treatment of depression usually helps symptoms of insomnia to improve.
Psychotherapy, also known as counseling or talk therapy, can help you to learn coping skills to prevent future depressive symptoms from occurring. Medication choices that may improve both depression and insomnia include sedating antidepressants or a hypnotic medication that is intended to help you sleep.
Getting Help for Depression and Sleeplessness
There are several different types of medication that may help in the treatment of depression and insomnia, but the first choice may not always work. Depression medications may take two weeks or longer for you to experience the full effect. You might need to try two or three different medications, or combinations of medications, to find the one that works for you.
Don’t give up if you don’t get relief from symptoms right away. Keeping a sleep diary or tracking your mood for a couple of weeks can help with getting an accurate diagnosis and can also help clarify whether your doctor’s treatment choices are working.
Residential treatment offers an opportunity for medical professionals to properly and effectively treat your depression and monitor your sleep disturbances while evaluating medication choices and other approaches to treatment. It also gives you the opportunity to be in a safe environment where you can step away from your daily life, learn relaxation techniques, and focus on rest and healing.
Don’t try to ignore symptoms of depression or insomnia. Both are treatable conditions that can be detrimental to your mood and health if left untreated.