But there’s more to it than just that. The COVID pandemic and resulting economic recession have greatly increased the likelihood of depression for many. During the worst of the pandemic, 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. That, too, led to increased sleep problems, with researchers coining the term “coronasomnia” to describe the fact that many Americans have found their sleep disrupted by worry and fear throughout 2020.
If all this sounds uncomfortably familiar to you, you’re not alone, and you should be congratulated for searching out possible solutions to the double challenges of sleep and depression. Depression can be overwhelming, and your first course of action should always be to consult with a physician on the best course of treatment.
In this article, we will discuss the relationship between sleep and depression and offer some tools for living that can help. We’ll also share resources that provide aid and assistance for you if you are living with depression.
What Is Depression?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, major depressive disorder is “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act.” Symptoms, which include feeling sad, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping, must last at least two weeks.
Clinical depression is more profound than just random feelings of sorrow. “Clinical depression is not just about the feelings of sadness and grief, but is a sickness that challenges your ability to normally perform daily activities, including eating, bathing, or going to work,” says Dr. Mubashar Rehman of HealthCreeds.com.
Depression can wear many masks, and every individual will experience it in a slightly different way. For some people, it is cyclical and comes and goes with the seasons.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that is tied to the change of seasons. Symptoms usually begin in the fall and continue through winter, slowly fading away in the spring months. Less commonly, it may be the opposite, getting worse during summer months.
Symptoms of SAD include depression, lack of interest in activities you usually enjoy, and a feeling of low energy. You may have difficulty concentrating, as well as problems getting a good night’s sleep — or issues with staying awake.
Although the causes of SAD aren’t fully understood, it seems to be related to your circadian rhythm and may also indicate a lack of two chemicals in your body: serotonin and melatonin.
Treatments for SAD include talk therapy, antidepressant medications, and the use of light therapy, which requires you to sit a few feet from a special light box that mimics natural outdoor light. If you suspect that you suffer from SAD, talk to your doctor about possible treatment plans.