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What Causes Morning Depression & How To Cope With It?

Topic Overview

It is quite common for people to feel irritable and sleepy early in the morning but if this starts to happen on an almost daily basis then it can be indicative of a medical term called as Morning Depression. It is a condition which can worsen an individual dealing with depression if it is not addressed promptly. This can be identified by the following signs like feeling depressed or irritable over a specific situation or thing or feeling irritable and upset over something which usually is not bothersome. If an individual has these signs to an extent that he or she is unable to get out of bed in the morning and has complete lack of motivation then it can be termed as Morning Depression [1].

What causes this condition can be understood by understanding the functioning of the body during the daytime and at night. The production of various hormones in the body depends quite a lot on whether it is the time of day or night. As an example, cortisol which is an important hormone that provides energy to the body is produced during daytime. In the same essence, melatonin the hormone that induces sleep is produced at night to allow us to sleep and give the body the desired rest [1].

If these hormones are in perfect balance then the body is said to be functioning smoothly without any health issues. However, if for any reason there is a disruption of sleep there can be an imbalance of these hormones where they be produced when they are not supposed to. This is what results in an individual feeling irritable and excessively sleepy in the morning. This ultimately affects the mood and the individual feels depressed upon waking up. This article details the causes of Morning Depression and different ways to manage this condition [1].

What Causes Morning Depression?

An individual with depression will have complete lack of motivation to do anything whether it is at office or at home. There will be a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. In severe cases, the individual even feels suicidal at times. In Morning Depression, all these feelings occur early in the morning upon waking up to an extent that it will be difficult for the individual to get out of bed. Morning Depression is a diurnal variation of depression meaning that the symptoms are at their peak at the same time during the day every day, in this case early morning [2].

As of now, there is no specific cause identified as to why the symptoms occur at a specific time but there are certain contributing factors. The primary contributing factor is believed to be imbalances in the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm of the body regulates the sleep wake cycle of an individual. It is due to this circadian rhythm that an individual feels sleepy at night and energetic during the day. This rhythm can get affected due to hormonal imbalances, especially melatonin which promotes sleep [2].

It is common for people to have changes in mood throughout the day even though they are not formally diagnosed with depression. However, people with Morning Depression tend to have significant highs and lows in mood in the morning on a daily basis. Researchers believe that irregular sleep patterns, alcohol abuse, and stress all play a role in hormonal imbalances that leads to Morning Depression [2].

Some of the other factors that increase the likelihood of an individual having Morning Depression are a family history of depression and certain medical conditions like anxiety, ADHD, or medical conditions that cause constant pain. Additionally, being a part of a traumatic incident or witnessing a crime all take a toll on the body of the individual and can cause Morning Depression [2].

How To Cope With Morning Depression?

With regards to treatment of Morning Depression, psychotherapy, medications, and lifestyle changes form the majority of treatment options for Morning Depression. In extreme cases where there is a risk for an individual having suicidal thoughts or ideations, emergent physician consultation is necessary for prompt treatment. In psychotherapy, the patient will be asked to identify the negative thoughts that creep in their mind and stay focused on the positive aspects. Psychotherapy done in groups or in the presence of family members can help in forming a bond and strengthen relationships [2].

In some cases, the patient will be prescribed medications to deal with the symptoms of depression. These medications will include mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics. It will take various forms of combination before the right match for the patient will be determined. This is because people respond differently to different medications and if a specific medication is found to be effective in one individual may not be effective in someone else [2].

Lifestyle changes in the form of regular exercising are perhaps the best way to brighten up the mood, especially in the morning. This is because exercising results in the production of endorphins which promotes good mood and positive thoughts. Exercising outdoors is especially beneficial as it causes increased production of endorphins. Additionally, exposure to early morning sun decreases insomnia and decreases the symptoms of Morning Depression [2].

In some severe cases, physicians resort to electroconvulsive therapy for treatment of the symptoms of Morning Depression. This therapy involves inducing a seizure for symptom relief. However, this treatment is usually the last resort when other forms of therapies have been deemed ineffective in controlling the symptoms of Morning Depression [2].

Some studies suggest effectiveness of other forms of therapies like acupuncture, yoga, and meditation in that they have shown to be quite efficacious in controlling the symptoms of Morning Depression. Some of the other changes that an individual can incorporate in the daily life to cope with Morning Depression include practicing good sleep hygiene. Going to bed at the same time every day and not taking any caffeinated or alcoholic beverages just before bedtime is a good way to improve sleep hygiene [2].

It is also important to keep the room quiet and dark and temperature controlled to promote a restful sleep. It is a good idea to read a book rather than watching television to get to sleep faster. A good night’s sleep is always helpful to get rid of Morning Depression. If possible, the individual can schedule work in such a way that gives him or her some time to get up a bit late and go to work. This will relieve the stress of getting up early and preventing Morning Depression [2].

To further strengthen the circadian rhythm of the body it is better to adjust the overhead light in such a way that it lights up the room at the same time every morning. This will make the individual go to sleep and get up at the same time every day and help in coping up with Morning Depression. However, it is better to discuss the symptoms with the physician who can formulate the best strategy that suits the needs and requirements of the patient to cope up with Morning Depression [2].


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 11, 2019

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