How to Cope With and Manage Nighttime Depression

Depression can interfere with daily life, but for many people it rears its ugly head at night, producing physical and emotional symptoms that can be difficult to deal with. Many millions of people suffer from depression each year, many of them at night. Depression looks a little different for each person who suffers from it and some experience a significant increase in their symptoms once night falls. This, in turn, can exacerbate or create insomnia, which further increases symptoms. Understanding the condition can help you cope. 

Symptoms of Nighttime Depression

Again, each person experiences depression differently and some might have more severe symptoms at night, while others may notice more feelings of isolation and hopelessness when it’s nighttime. Others may notice agitation, racing thoughts and trouble getting to sleep. Other symptoms may include a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed doing at night, aches and pains, lack of energy, irritableness and feelings of guilt or worthlessness. 

Causes of Nighttime Depression

There are several things that could be at play if you suffer from nighttime depression. One of the biggest reasons symptoms may increase at night is because that’s when the days distractions aren’t there. When you’re going about your normal day, it’s easier to stay busy, distracting yourself from your feelings of depression. On the other hand, at night, when your body and brain have settled, you may notice that those feelings come back. 

Another contributor may be blue and white light. These lights make it difficult to get to sleep, but studies show that they may also contribute to an increase in symptoms of depression. Using your phone or table or watching television increases your exposure to these lights, which may be why you notice more symptoms at night. 

Your circadian rhythm, which controls your sleep/wake cycle, is important for stemming feelings of depression. When it gets messed up, it can trigger symptoms of depression and worsen existing symptoms. An increase in artificial light, which is used in homes and businesses at night, causes disruptions to your circadian rhythm, which exacerbates mood disorders like depression. 

How to Cope with Nighttime Depression

There are several ways that you can cope with your nighttime depression, by creating and maintaining a treatment plan with your doctor is one of the most important. This might include a medication regimen that you will need to adhere to, as well as other techniques to help you control your symptoms when nighttime comes. 

If you are not currently diagnosed, making an appointment to see a doctor should be your first step. That way you can work out a treatment plan that you’re comfortable with. This plan won’t look the same for everyone so it’s vital to be honest and upfront with your doctor so that you can find methods that work for you and your symptoms. 

Here are some tips and tricks you can try that many people find success with when managing their nighttime depression.

  • Unwind before bed – give yourself a couple of hours to allow your body and brain to slow down and prepare for sleep. Good sleep is important for controlling depression. 
  • Make your bedroom a calm space – leave out anything that causes you stress, including screens and work you’ve brought home. 
  • Limit screen time – turn off your phone, tablet and television a couple of hours before bedtime. Dim the lights and do something relaxing instead. 
  • Try stress relieving activities – activities that calm you down are ideal before bed. Try painting, sewing, reading or baking to help you unwind. Yoga and meditation are other great options. 
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine – or limit them as much as possible. Both symptoms can contribute to symptoms and depression and can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Depression is a condition that is treatable, but you have to be willing to take the necessary steps to recover. That means working closely with your doctor to create your treatment plan and then sticking with it. If you notice that you aren’t having success, work on ways to tweak the plan to make it work better for you. And if you ever feel hopeless or suicidal, reach out for help right away.

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