Depression is a mental disorder that affects millions of people around the world. People who suffer from this mood disorder face several physical and emotional symptoms that affect their day to day quality of life. Everyone who suffers from depression experiences depression in a different manner. One such form of depression is nighttime depression, where people experience an increase in the severity of their depression symptoms at night. Nighttime depression is also known to increase the symptoms of insomnia or worsen insomnia, keeping you awake for a longer period of time or making it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
What is Nighttime Depression?
Nighttime depression is a form of depression in which people experience an increase in the symptoms of depression at night. They might either experience more symptoms at night or the symptoms may also increase in severity during nighttime. Nighttime depression is also known to worsen insomnia as it makes it difficult for people to fall asleep.
What are the Symptoms of Nighttime Depression?
Nighttime depression is known to have several different symptoms. Symptoms tend to vary from person to person. While some people end up experiencing an increase in the severity of depression symptoms, others are known to experience feelings of loss, hopelessness, isolation, and emptiness during night. Some may also feel agitated or have racing thoughts, which makes it difficult to sleep. Other associated symptoms of nighttime depression include:
- Lack of energy or fatigue particularly evening onwards.
- Changes in appetite and weight loss or weight gain.
- Physical pain.
- Perceiving the world to be less colorful or dull.
- Memory problems.
- Social withdrawal.
- Trouble falling asleep.
- Trouble staying asleep.
- Waking up tired or waking up at odd times during the night.
- Waking up frequently during the night with a sense of hopelessness.
What are the Causes of Nighttime Depression?
Nighttime depression can be caused by many factors. One of the most common causes behind nighttime depression is attributed to a sudden and increased lack of distractions. People having mild to moderate depression find it easier to cope with their symptoms during the day by keeping themselves busy. However, during nighttime, once you settle down to sleep, there is nothing that keeps you busy. You are left alone with your thoughts and for a person suffering from depression, being left alone with their thoughts is a sure shot trigger for a flare-up of their condition.
Researchers are still studying other factors that could be responsible for increasing the symptoms of nighttime depression. A study conducted on animals in 2013 found that bright lights, in particular, blue and white light, are likely to keep a person awake and also increase the symptoms of depression. The study found that even having a television set into the room boosted cortisol levels in the animals and caused changes in the brain’s hippocampus area. Both of these factors are known to increase the symptoms of depression and cause nighttime depression.
Furthermore, disruptions in the body’s circadian rhythm are known to trigger depression or increase the severity of depression symptoms. A study in 2009 found that an increase in your exposure to artificial light towards the evening is going to increase mood disorders or even cause mood disorders such as depression and nighttime depression.
Ways to Deal with Nighttime Depression
There are many ways in which you can deal with nighttime depression. It is important to keep in mind that the first and foremost plan for dealing with nighttime depression or any form of depression is to stringently follow the treatment plan that has been prescribed by your doctor. This means that you have to take all your medications, even when you do not feel your symptoms coming on.
If you are not currently undergoing any treatment for your depression or you have started experiencing depression symptoms recently, then it is a good idea to take an appointment with a doctor and get a proper diagnosis done so that you can begin the proper course of treatment as prescribed.
Here are some tips to deal with nighttime depression and to prevent your symptoms from worsening during the night.
Avoid Bright Screens: This is one of the biggest factors that contribute to insomnia and nighttime depression. You should try to avoid looking at any bright screens for at least two hours before bedtime. You should also dim the lights as much as possible. Exposure to blue light is known to give rise to insomnia and also increase the severity of nighttime depression symptoms. So when dealing with nighttime depression, it is important to remember to avoid bright screens about 2 hours before you plan to sleep.
Start unwinding at least 2 hours before bedtime: By unwinding at least two hours before you plan to go to bed, your body gets the message that you are getting ready to sleep and starts to slow down its processes. Good sleep is not only important for battling depression and nighttime depression, but it is also important for your overall well-being and health.
Practice Some Stress-Busting Activities: If you practice stress-relieving activities, such as painting, baking, cooking, reading, etc., you will feel calmer and it will also help you deal with your nighttime depression. You can also think about practicing meditation and some light yoga before bedtime to help you calm down and feel less stressed before sleeping.
Keep your work out of the bedroom: In order to deal with nighttime depression, do not keep anything stressful inside the bedroom. If you have things that remind you of stressful situations, then it becomes more difficult for your body to calm down and relax at bedtime. Keeping stressful things outside of the bedroom makes your sleeping space more positive and gives a calming effect. If you make your bedroom a screen-free room, it will work wonders for your nighttime depression symptoms.
Avoid taking caffeine and alcohol, particularly in the evenings: Consuming alcohol or/and caffeine during the evening time is going to increase the symptoms of nighttime depression. If you have caffeine towards the second half of the day, it is also likely to disrupt your sleeping cycle as caffeine is known to keep you awake and make you more energetic. However, for people who suffer from depression, caffeine and alcohol consumption is known to increase the severity of their depression symptoms.
Therefore, limit the intake of both these beverages to alleviate your nighttime depression.
Depression and sleep disturbances are known to have a common theme and sleep disturbances are also considered to be a classic symptom of depression. Nighttime depression is more frequent in people who suffer from insomnia. Therefore, having a fixed nighttime schedule and a regular bedtime is going to help you fight not just depression symptoms at night, but also insomnia. Having healthy bedtime habits will help you manage your nighttime depression to a great degree.
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