Depression and Sleep are cousins if not brothers and sister. This deep feeling of sadness is a part of life especially when a person is going through tough times. However, when it extends for long time, sadness can lead to hopelessness and loss of interest in once enjoyable activities which are the main signs of depression.
In the US, about 20 million people are affected by the relationship between depression and sleep. While the factors that lead to the condition are known are known, its exact cause is not known. The relationship between depression and sleep is not only complex but also symbiotic.
Depression and Sleep: Relationship
To start with, lack or extreme sleepiness can cause depression; the opposite is also true. For some people, depressive disorders precede sleeping problems. For others, sleep disorders occur before the symptoms of depressive disorders are noticed. These two conditions share the same risk factors and biological characteristics and may respond to the same treatments. In fact, if either of the two conditions is treated, the other automatically improves if not completely cured.
Almost all depressed patients have insomnia. Studies show that those patients who do not get enough sleep are 10 times more likely to get depression than those who sleep well. Depressed patients exhibit signs and symptoms seen in sleeping disorders.
Effects of Depressive Disorders on Sleep
- Difficulty in getting sleep.
- Difficulty in maintaining sleep.
- Daytime sleepiness.
- Un-refreshing sleep.
- Extreme sleepiness.
Effects of Sleep on depression
Lack/extreme sleep can affect your emotional health to cause depression. While sleeping disorders may not be the main culprits in depressive disorders, they definitely do contribute. Here are some effects of Depression and Sleep:
- People with any sleeping disorder have an increased risk of being depressed. Patients with insomnia have a tenfold risk of getting depression.
- Poor sleep patterns lead to severe and lengthy periods of depressive disorders.
- Sleep disorders can lead to physical injury that can in turn cause depression.
In addition to the above suggested symptoms, depression has its own symptoms that are not sleep-related:
- Strong feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and sadness.
- Feeling suicidal.
- Poor concentration.
- Poor energy levels.
- Change in appetite.
- Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities.
Depression may also be accompanied by physical symptoms:
- Back pain.
- Digestion problems.
- Headaches and migraine.
Depression and Sleep: Treatment and Home remedies
It is very difficult to separate treatment and remedies for the two conditions. More often than not, they are treated together. As pointed out earlier, if sleep disorders or depression is cured, the other condition will automatically improve. Both behavioral and pharmacological treatments are important in treating the two conditions. Pharmacological treatments:
- Use of antidepressants.
- Improving mood by using Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
- Anticonvulsant and lithium.
Remember that some drugs used to treat depression are known to cause excessive or lack of sleep. It is therefore important to inform your healthcare provider that you are afflicted by the two conditions.
Behavioral treatment options:
- Getting regular exercise and enough sunshine in order to “activate and optimize” the biological sleep clock.
- Avoid naps as they can lead to poor sleep at night.
- Try as much as possible to engage in your regular activities especially interacting with friends.
- Avoid alcohol and other caffeinated drinks as they can lead to lack of sleep.
- Avoid exercising or tedious activities too close to bedtime.