women lying on the ground trying to sleep

We all feel down from time to time. But when you are depressed, you tend to go through long, extended periods of feeling sad and hopeless. This can last for a few weeks, or even months and years. 

Depression is not just feeling sad – it can be a serious mental disorder where you struggle to face your day-to-day life without feeling hopeless or worthless. Depression affects people differently, and can range from mild to severe. When someone is suffering from mild depression, they may suffer irritability and low mood, whereas severe depression can involve intrusive thoughts, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts. 

Some symptoms of depression are:

  • Low mood and continual sadness
  • Low self esteem
  • Guilt
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Self-harm
  • Difficulty focusing or making decisions
  • Lack of motivation
  • Irritable or intolerant
  • Hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Loss of libido
  • Lack of interest
  • Inability to sleep
  • Oversleeping

How Are Sleep and Depression Related?

Depression and sleep are more closely linked than you may realize. For example, people with conditions such as insomnia or anxiety are far more at risk of developing depression, as they may struggle to sleep every night. This can lead to a dip in mood, frequent irritability, and the inability to concentrate.

When someone suffers from depression, it is far more likely that they will also struggle to sleep at night than someone not facing the same struggle. When we don’t sleep well, we can’t focus and we tend to worry more.       This turns into an endless cycle of worrying and sleeplessness. 

In addition to this, studies have shown that when someone suffers from chronic sleep deprivation, or they lose a lot of sleep over a period of time, this can lead to depression and depressive disorders because poor sleep affects the brain’s neurotransmitter serotonin. 

Likewise, oversleeping can also be related to depression. Oversleeping is also a symptom of depression, however it doesn’t fuel depression in the same way a lack of sleep does. Instead, what oversleeping does is exacerbate the symptoms, as individuals may feel that they’ve wasted the day, missed out, or been unproductive, which can also decrease their mood and self-esteem. 

Why Sleep Is So Important

Depression and sleep have a bidirectional relationship—which means that insufficient sleep can increase the development of depression and suffering from depression can make you more likely to develop issues when sleeping. Those who suffer from depression may be more prone to insomnia, sleep apnea, and other issues associated with sleep.  When sleep is disrupted, this can affect the body’s stress system—which changes how the neurotransmitter serotonin functions, thus changing circadian rhythms.  Having a good sleeping schedule can really help reduce the symptoms of depression, as sufficient sleep (particularly REM sleep) helps the brain function more effectively. This means that the brain’s processing of emotional information will work better, helping you to manage your mood better.  This means that mood swings, irritability and anger can be reduced and you may feel a lift in spirits. Your mood may be more stabilized. This is essential for someone who suffers from depression.  In the end, sleep is far more important for your mental health than you may realize. Without proper sleep, our body and brain cannot function effectively, which means that you can be more prone to stress, irritability and mood swings due to a lack of sleep.  Sleep is vital if you are suffering from depression, as ample sleep can help you recover and stay mentally and physically well. If you are struggling to sleep due to your depression, then it is essential that you speak to a depression counselor for help and guidance.

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