Alter Your Circadian Rhythm
People with depression often have differences in their circadian rhythms. Its possible to reset your circadian rhythm to feel more rested and start your day off right. Some tips to reset your circadian rhythm include:
- Keep a regular sleep schedule go to sleep, and wake up, at the same time every day
- Eat scheduled meals at regular times, distributed evenly throughout the day
- Get regular physical exercise, but not too close to bedtime exercising in the middle of the day has been shown to fix circadian rhythm for some people
However, these strategies may not be enough to manage morning depression if you dont also receive treatment for the depression itself.
Can I Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder
You may not be able to prevent the first episode of SAD. But once your provider has diagnosed you with seasonal depression, you can take steps to better manage it or even prevent it from coming back.
- Use your lightbox: Start using light therapy at the beginning of fall, before you feel SAD symptoms.
- Get out: Spend time outside every day, even if its cloudy. Daylight can help you feel better.
- Eat a well-balanced diet: Even though your body may crave starchy and sweet foods, stick to nutritious choices. A healthy diet with enough vitamins and minerals can give you the proper nutrition and energy you need.
- Exercise: Try to get 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week. Exercise relieves stress and anxiety, which can play a role in your SAD symptoms.
- See friends: Stay involved with your social circle and regular activities. They can provide support during the winter months.
- Find help: Consider seeing a mental health professional whos trained in CBT. This treatment can be very effective for seasonal affective disorder.
- Consider medications: Talk to your healthcare provider about taking an antidepressant. Medications can help if your symptoms are severe or if they continue after other treatments. In some cases, taking the medication before SAD begins can prevent episodes.
Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if starting treatment early, as a preventive measure, is right for you.
Take Some Deep Breaths
This might seem like an “easier said than done” situation, but Dr. Saltz says taking slow, deep breaths truly can help calm the mind and body. “If there’s something you’re worried about on your mind that pops up while you’re taking your deep breaths, acknowledge it and let it pass don’t try to push it away,” she says.
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What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder
Researchers dont know exactly what causes seasonal depression. Lack of sunlight may trigger the condition if youre prone to getting it. The theories suggest:
- Biological clock change: When theres less sunlight, your biological clock shifts. This internal clock regulates your mood, sleep and hormones. When it shifts, youre out of step with the daily schedule youve been used to and cant adjust to changes in daylight length.
- Brain chemical imbalance: Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters send communications between nerves. These chemicals include serotonin, which contributes to feelings of happiness. If youre at risk of SAD, you may already have less serotonin activity. Since sunlight helps regulate serotonin, a lack of sunlight in the winter can make the situation worse. Serotonin levels can fall further, leading to depression.
- Vitamin D deficiency: Your serotonin level also gets a boost from vitamin D. Since sunlight helps produce vitamin D, less sun in the winter can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. That change can affect your serotonin level and your mood.
- Melatonin boost: Melatonin is a chemical that affects your sleep patterns and mood. The lack of sunlight may stimulate an overproduction of melatonin in some people. You may feel sluggish and sleepy during the winter.
- Negative thoughts: People with SAD often have stress, anxiety and negative thoughts about the winter. Researchers arent sure if these negative thoughts are a cause or effect of seasonal depression.
Why Are You Anxious In The Morning
To be clear, not everyone feels anxious when they first wake up but its not uncommon to feel that way, either.
In my experience , anxiety tends to be higher in the morning, said Alex Dimitriu, a sleep medicine physician and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine in California. The data is mixed … with some studies showing more anxiety later in the day.
Heres what could be happening:
1. Cortisol spikes in the morning.
Some of the anxiety could be attributed to cortisol, which is higher when you first wake up, Dimitriu said.
Serum cortisol levels are higher in the morning this is part of the brain booting up, like a computer, after a night of sleep, he explained, adding that this boot-up is to jolt us awake from sleep.
And while its totally normal, it may be a challenge if youre already facing general anxiety or stress. If someone has anxiety or stress, the baseline level of cortisol can already run higher, and peak higher yet in the mornings, he said.
2. Your sleep habits can also be a factor.
Its incredibly important to pay attention to your sleep schedule.
Dimitriu added that the fight or flight stress response gets to rest at night while you sleep, but it may not get as much rest in individuals with higher levels of anxiety. This may suggest that there is a built-up inertia of stress that extends into the night.
3. Your baseline mental health plays a role.
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Persistent Irritability Or Mood Swings
Depression can cause us to experience outbursts and mood swings. One minute were angry, the next were crying uncontrollably, or we shut down and go numb. Changes in our mood can switch in a moments notice. Sometimes these changes can be triggered by small or insignificant challenges, and other times they may come about completely unprovoked. If you notice a pattern of irritability or mood swings that last more than a few days, it may be linked to depression.
Is Depression Worse In The Morning
Whether you have $10 million in the bank or are an average citizen, depression, and mental health disorders can affect you. Chemical imbalances in the brain dont discriminate, and someone who is seemingly happy on the outside may be struggling and screaming for help inside their mind.
Depression is a cruel form of torture because it can affect anyone, and at times, it can be debilitating. The statistics back up the claims, and depression has become widespread throughout the U.S. population.
According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance , major depressive disorder affects about 17.3 million U.S. adults, which translates to nearly 7.1 percent of the total adult population. Unfortunately, women are affected more than men, and 1.9 million children ages 3 through 17 are diagnosed with depression. Adults who have a depressive disorder are at greater risk of developing coronary artery disease.
Women are twice as likely to develop depression than their counterparts. Postpartum mood changes can range from having the blues following childbirth, or it can turn into an episode of severe depression. It can become incapacitating and cause women to become psychotic. DBSA suggests that women who have experienced significant depression following childbirth likely had prior depressive episodes even though they may not have been adequately diagnosed.
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Listen Without Offering Judgment Or Advice
Listen to your friend as they tell you about their experiences, emotions and difficulties. Avoid passing judgment or giving them advice about what they should do. Instead, focus on sitting with them and being there for them in the moment. Your job isn’t to fix the situation but to help your friend feel heard and understood.
Reaching Out Can Help
If anxiety is impacting your sleep, work, relationships or ability to focus, seek professional help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness connects people with professionals in their area. Call 800-950-NAMI or text NAMI to 741741. If anxiety is causing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK .
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Change Your Eating Habits
There is an abundance of data that suggests that changing your diet can greatly impact sleep cycles, including morning depression. Dark leafy greens are particularly impactful as they contain water-soluble B vitamins. Other antioxidant-rich foods are
Food can also impact sleep in other ways. For instance, if you are eating too much or too little sleep can be affected. Restriction of food can lead to depression and irritability. Shame can result from overeating.
With these in mind, try having a balanced meal that can satisfy, indulge and nourish you.
How Does Light Therapy Work
To use light therapy or phototherapy, you purchase a special lamp. It has white fluorescent light tubes covered with a plastic screen to block ultraviolet rays. The light is about 20 times brighter than regular indoor light. The intensity of light emitted should be 10,000 lux.
To use phototherapy, dont look directly into the light. Your exposure to the light should be indirect. Place the lamp about two to three feet away while you read, eat, work or do other activities.
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Circadian Rhythm Of Mood In Healthy Subjects
Diurnal mood swings are present in nonclinical individuals. Persons whose mood was low had a DV pattern showing increased PA in the evening relative to the morning, but with low amplitude.5 Another study in healthy subjects showed that, the evening-worse pattern was associated with many neurotic features, depressive mood, anxiety, and a cognitive style indicative of hopelessness.6 Thus, DV occurs in many individuals in every day life, with a variety of patterns analogous to those found in MDD.
It is more difficult to demonstrate that, mood, like core body temperature or Cortisol, follows an endogenous circadian rhythm. Two stringent protocols have been developed to study the human circadian system: the constant routine and the forced desynchrony protocol .
In healthy subjects, a number of constant, routine studies have shown that, mood follows a circadian rhythm with lowest values around the time of the core body temperature minimum. For example, PA exhibited a significant 24hour rhythm in parallel with the circadian temperature rhythm, whereas NA did not.7 Our group has recently documented a circadian rhythm of subjective well-being in a constant routine, even when the sleep homeostatic component was varied by regular naps or total sleep deprivation .8 Overall, well-being was worse during the high sleep pressure condition, in older subjects, and in women. Thus, both age and gender modulate circadian and sleep-wake homoeostatic contributions to subjective well-being.
Circadian Rhythm Of Mood In Mdd
An early study under ambulatory conditions over 2 weeks compared circadian rhythms in drug-free MDD patients before and after recover}’ with healthy controls. Lowest, circadian mood occurred around the time of awakening during depression, several hours later than after remission or in normal controls . The circadian variation of motor activity, body temperature, and urinary potassium was reduced during depression.12 A hint for a phase delay and lowered circadian amplitude?
In a 40-hour constant, routine study of seasonal affective disorder, the circadian rhythm of mood in controls could be contrasted with the overall lower mood in the depressed patients . What is clearly seen in the latter group is the mood-enhancing effect, of sleep deprivation during the second half of the constant routine.
Mood changes across a 40-hour constant routine protocol in control middle-aged women and women with winter depression . Both groups show a circadian rhythm in addition, patients improve on the second day after sleep deprivation. .Course of mood as assayed by the Adjective Mood Scale completed at 2-hour intervals throughout six 20-h days in healthy subjects. Analysis of the sleepwake and circadian clock-related components reveals the strong physiological components underlying subjective mood. Redrawn from ref 14.
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Why Do I Wake Up Depressed
Some individuals who struggle with depression report feeling worse in the mornings. This is because depression is associated with disruptions in our circadian rhythm, or the cycle of our physical, mental, and behavioral changes. Sleeping at night and being awake during the daytimea diurnal cycleis an important example of this rhythm, as we rely on this pattern to function normally in our everyday lives. And when our body clock gets thrown off, we experience chronodisruption, which can affect our emotional wellbeing.
One reason many feel more severe depression in the morning is that depression has been shown to disturb the circadian rhythm, Sarah Epstein, a marriage and family therapist, explains. A persons circadian rhythm impacts energy level, mood, and thinking. So, a person with depression gets poor sleep and their normal circadian cycle suffers, causing all sorts of depressive symptoms like fatigue, anger, frustration, and irritability.
What Is Morning Anxiety
Although not a medical term, morning anxiety refers to waking up with feelings of stress and worry. If you are dealing with excessive anxiety, worry, and stress in the morning, theres a good chance you may also have generalized anxiety.
Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive and uncontrolled worry that pervades daily life and occurs frequently for at least six months. People with GAD typically worry about everyday actives such as work, money, family, and health.
The symptoms of morning anxiety often mimic those of generalized anxiety disorder. If you are struggling with anxiety upon waking, you may be experiencing:
- feeling restless, on-edge, or wound up
Morning anxiety can be caused by many factors that may also contribute to an anxiety disorder. Since morning anxiety is a reaction to excess stress and worries, there are several potential causes that may contribute to your symptoms.
The stress hormone cortisol is released by the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress. Researchers have studied the cortisol awakening response and have found that cortisol is highest in the first hour of waking for people with an increased level of stress in their lives. This helps explain why you may experience an increase in anxiety in the morning.
If you go to bed worrying or wake up during the night with anxious thoughts, you are likely to feel anxious and concerned about your day in the morning.
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Lifestyle Changes To Help Cope With Morning Depression
It isnt always easy to start new routines when youre feeling depressed, but lifestyle changes can often significantly improve your symptoms. Work to introduce a few small, positive changes into your life.
Sometimes its helpful to increase the amount of sleep or focus on the quality of sleep. Bedtime routines that include separating ourselves from technology, finding a dark/cold space, and incorporating something soothing might help. So can increasing fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet and working to alleviate stress in our natural environment.
Difficulty Experiencing Joy Or Connection
When were depressed, it can take all of the enjoyment out of the things we love and make it more difficult for us to connect to those closest to us. We may begin to lose interest in hobbies, friendships, schoolwork, social activities, sex or life in general. When we find that we are no longer enjoying or finding pleasure in the things we used to enjoy, this can be a sign of depression. We may also isolate ourselves from close friends, family members or others who care about us, which can perpetuate the symptoms of depression.
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Exercise In The Morning
Exercise is a big tool in your morning anxiety-busting toolbox which makes it worth reiterating its importance. Moving your body in the morning is especially helpful for combating morning anxiety because it helps lower your already heightened cortisol levels, Robin says. If youre pressed for time in the morning, no worries. Robin adds that even 15 minutes of movement in the morning can help.
Depressed In The Morning
The reason why depression can frequently occur more severely in the morning rather than other parts of the day remains largely unknown although there are known indicators that certainly contribute to symptoms.
A disruption in the circadian rhythm, your bodys natural clock, could be one major influence on morning depression. The circadian rhythm regulates everything from body temperature to hormone rhythm. A dysfunctional hormone rhythm, for example, may not produce melatonin at night, the hormone responsible for preparing the body for sleep. Consequently, interference with restful sleep can greatly impact physical and mental well-being. A disrupted sleep cycle is a symptom of morning depression along with others like:
- A debilitating lack of energy in the morning
- Inability to perform simple tasks in your routine
- Feelings of emptiness
- Lack of motivation
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Why Is Depression Worse In The Morning
One of the potential indicators of morning depression centers around the impact of our circadian rhythm or internal clock on our mood. This line of thinking suggests that our morning depression could be tied to our circadian rhythm as even slight disruptions to our circadian rhythm and, therefore, our sleep-wake cycle, can negatively influence our mood.1,2
Our circadian rhythm plays a vital role not only in our sleep-wake cycle, but also in our body temperature, metabolism, hunger, and digestion.3 When our circadian rhythms are not working properly, this can contribute to mental health issues such as depressive symptoms. This is particularly evident in night shift workers who sleep during the day and stay awake at night for their shift. This radical schedule leads them to being 40% more likely to develop depression than people who worked during daytime hours.3
Similarly, those who have depression often have sleep disturbances as they may notice that they sleep less or more than usual due to their mood issues.3 Furthermore, more severe depressive symptoms are connected with more significant problems with a persons circadian rhythm.3