Depression and SleepLack of sleep can leave you feeling low and depressed. Lacking in energy and irritable it is hard to find any pleasure in life. If sleep problems persist it is likely that you will even give up some of the things that previously gave you pleasure – evenings out, exercise and other hobbies. Irritable and finding it hard to function you might even find it difficult to relate to friends and family and become isolated and lonely.

Sleep problems are also symptoms of depression. A depressed person will often feel lethargic and low in energy. They may retreat to the safety of the bedroom but find it difficult to fall or stay asleep.

So, which comes first – the depression or the sleep problems? Without investigation this is hard to decide, but what is obvious is the fact that whatever happens to us will affect our sleep. Sleep cannot be separated from how we live and what happens in the waking part of our lives.

Low or Depressed

A feeling of depression is not uncommon and may be related to a number of factors. Illness, emotional problems, bereavement, empathy with other’s suffering or a long dark winter can all cause feelings of depression. These feelings usually diminish over time and any symptoms such as insomnia will vanish.

Major Depressive Disorder is more serious and affects nearly every aspect of the sufferer’s life. They may find it impossible to function and will feel almost incapable of doing anything. Nearly all sufferers will experience insomnia and find it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up early. In some cases they will sleep through much of the day and night. This excessive sleeping is known as Hypersomnia.

Sleep Problem or Depression

You may be able to identify whether your sleep problem developed at the same time as the feelings of depression. If this is the case it is possible that when the depression lifts your sleep will return to normal.

If the depression persists then help may be needed to identify the causes and work towards improving how you feel. Antidepressants may be prescribed in the short-term, which will also help improve your sleep. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy will help with long-term adjustment.

Sleep and Health

Exercise will increase feelings of energy and wellbeing. A brisk walk or some time outdoors often helps with those ‘blue’ feelings. Holistic therapies such as massage and yoga will help improve energy levels and give a sense of connection and wellbeing.

By adopting strategies that will help you feel in control you may improve your ability to feel ‘connected’ – not only with your own mind and body but with the world as a whole.

Depression is a serious mood disorder and can often affect young people as well as old. Symptoms are usually worse in the morning and may be accompanied by weight loss, and in some cases weight gain. Depressive episodes may last for weeks or months, and although many sufferers fully recover, some have recurring episodes.

It is important to differentiate between those natural feelings of being ‘down’, and the more serious signs of depression. Sleep is a great healer and a good night’s sleep may make you feel as though all is right in the world.