Depression and Sleep Problems: How to Get a Handle on Both

Depression and Sleep Problems: How to Get a Handle on Both

Problems sleeping often go hand-in-hand with feelings of depression. Among people struggling with depression, about 75% say they have trouble either falling asleep or staying asleep. 

People who have insomnia may have a risk of developing depression that’s 10 times higher than people who sleep well all night.

The two problems often feed off each other, creating a situation that’s difficult to sort out. At Arlington Family Practice in Arlington, Massachusetts, we can help you get a handle on both depression and sleep trouble so you can get your life back.

What is depression?

Everyone feels sad or disappointed at times, but if your feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness last most of the day for more than a couple of weeks, you may be experiencing depression.

More than 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression. We don’t know exactly what causes it, but family history, major stress and trauma, and changes in brain chemistry can all play a role. 

Symptoms of depression also include loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, changes in appetite, decreased energy, difficult concentrating, and thoughts of death and suicide. A common symptom is a change in your sleep patterns.

How are depression and sleep problems related?

Almost everyone with depression experiences sleep problems. In fact, some doctors hesitate to diagnose depression if the patient doesn’t also have sleeping issues. The most common of these problems include insomnia, hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness), and sleep apnea. 

If you begin sleeping badly, this can contribute to the development of depression. Or, if you’re depressed, you’re more likely to develop sleep problems.

This complex relationship can make treatment options a bit confusing, but here are a few methods we may use. The good news is that both issues can be treated effectively. 

How can you treat both problems?

For depression, a treatment plan usually includes counseling or therapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy. Antidepressants are another option, but it may take time to determine which one works best for you. Treatments in combination are sometimes more effective than just one.

For your sleeping struggles, talking to a therapist can help you learn to cope with your depression as you change your mindset around sleep. Suggestions proven to help include:

Establish a sleeping and waking routine

Keep a consistent bedtime, allow time for 7-9 hours of sleep, and build a nighttime routine that cues your body when it’s time to start shutting down for the night.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine

Even moderate consumption of either substance can alter your sleep patterns and disrupt your sleep cycles.

Get outside

Sunlight helps your body’s internal clock calibrate when it’s time to be awake (bright sunshine) and when it’s time to induce sleepiness (when the sun sets).

Get regular exercise

You’re killing two birds with one stone here. Not only do you get the health benefits, exerting your body can improve your sleep quality and decrease symptoms of depression. Just don’t exercise too late in the day; leave your body plenty of time to adjust to sleeping mode.

If you’re experiencing sleep and depression issues, our expert team at Arlington Family Practice is ready and willing to customize a treatment plan just for you. Just contact the office by phone or use our convenient online scheduler to set your own appointment.

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