We now know insomnia and depression are definitely linked, but which led to what? Do we have insomnia because we are depressed, or are we depressed because we have insomnia? It’s an academic question because what we do know is by treating the two conditions as separate ailments, but at the same time, there is a much better chance of curing both.
Depression is an awful complaint. You can feel unhappy and anxious, even suicidal. People who have never suffered with depression can never totally understand what you’re feeling, however much they sympathize. You may even be told to “snap out of it”, if only…
One of the symptoms of depression is insomnia – specifically waking up early in the morning. In fact 80% of depressed people are said to experience insomnia. There is also evidence that depressed people enter the REM sleep (dream sleep) phase earlier than non depressed people and stay in REM for longer. This could be because they need to deal with emotions through dreams or it may be the prevalence of REM sleep means they are not getting enough restful deep sleep. At the moment it’s all speculation.
We do know that sleep is essential for emotional wellbeing and lack of sleep must contribute to a downward spiral. The more depressed we feel, the more sleep we need, but because we’re depressed we can’t seem to get our share of healthy sleep. So what can we do?
The best thing is to first try and understand what’s causing the insomnia. Some antidepression medication can cause us to become over stimulated and this will certainly keep us awake. Talk to your health care provider to see if your medication could be doing this and ask to change to a medication that helps you to relax.
Improving your insomnia will have a positive effect in two ways. First you will feel better when you’ve has sufficient sleep. Things naturally look brighter when you’re well rested. Secondly you won’t be worrying about not sleeping. Things always look bleaker at 3 am in the morning than they do in the light of day.
Next examine what’s causing the depression. Is it a specific incident or situation? Or do you feel generally depressed about everything? If the former is true, try and find a way around the situation, be solution orientated instead of always finding reasons why it can’t be done. If it’s the latter, then you have clinical depression which needs medical attention. In either case there’s always something proactive you can do.
Taking steps to solve a problem will always make you feel better and more in control.