Depression at Night: Understanding Causes and Finding Relief

Depression at Night: Understanding Causes and Finding Relief

Why is depression worse at night?

Did you know that depression at night is a real phenomenon? If you’ve observed your mood taking a downturn as dusk falls, you’re not alone. This occurrence is known as “nighttime depression,” but why is depression worse at night? Several factors contribute to this pattern, which significantly impacts many people’s well-being.

Understanding the causes of depression at night provides us with the chance to manage it and seek professional strategies to combat its unsettling symptoms. In this blog by Integrative Healthcare Center, we will explore five factors that contribute to the intensification of depression at night and provide strategies for handling it.

What is Depression, And How Do You Identify It?

Depression is a mental disorder that, as per Mental Health America, impacts 8% of American adults annually and 15% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17. It influences the mood, thoughts, and behavior of those affected, leading to extended periods of sadness and a diminished interest in activities, significantly impacting their quality of life.

Some symptoms of depression include:

  • Constant feelings of sadness
  • Sleep disturbances or excessive sleep
  • A loss of energy and interest in activities
  • Low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness
  • Thoughts of self-harm

The precise cause of depression remains unknown. However, experts have identified certain factors that may contribute to the onset of this condition, including genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological elements.

Depression can become overwhelming, as its primary symptoms can disrupt the execution of essential daily tasks such as work, study, sleep, eating, or even getting out of bed for routine activities. Furthermore, depression can lead to the progression of physical illnesses or deteriorate relationships due to social isolation.

Why Do We Feel Depressed at Night?

Depression at night is an escalation of depressive symptoms during the late afternoon and evening. Common indicators of depression, like feelings of despair, worthlessness, low mood, irritability, diminished interest in activities, and sleep complications, often intensify during nighttime.

This phenomenon has piqued the interest of many mental health researchers. Multiple studies have delved into the connection between nighttime routines and conditions such as shift work, exposure to light, and sleep quality, all of which can potentially impact depression. Research reveals that about 50% of individuals suffering from depression also struggle with sleep disruptions. Moreover, a study featured in Neuroscience Letters examining the influence of daytime, nighttime, and sleep pressure on long-term depression in the hippocampus in vivo deduced that there are fewer impediments to long-term depression at night.

While the research surrounding nighttime depression is intricate, researchers identified vital factors. One such factor is our body’s inherent circadian rhythm. Additionally, increased body temperatures and changes in the circadian rhythm of cortisol, the stress hormone, have been observed in individuals with depression. These findings provide insight into why symptoms of depression may worsen at night.

6 Factors that Influence Depression at Night:

  1. Light Exposure: A study in Behavioural Brain Research revealed that constant light exposure at night might disrupt circadian rhythms of locomotor activity, body temperature, hormones, and the sleep-wake cycle. Such alterations can exacerbate depressive symptoms. The research focused on identifying the minimal amount of nighttime light that leads to a depression-like phenotype.
  2. Circadian Rhythm Disruption: The circadian rhythm, our body’s internal clock, regulates sleepiness and wakefulness over 24 hours. Any disruption to this rhythm can result in people staying awake late into the night, potentially leading to mood disorders such as depression.
  3. Sleep Disorders: Research by Sleep Science suggests that 70% of individuals with depression suffer from sleep disturbances. Patients often struggle with falling asleep, frequently wake up during the night, and feel unrefreshed upon waking. These sleep disorders can amplify the severity of depressive symptoms by increasing physical fatigue and negatively affecting mood and feelings of sadness.
  4. Lack of Leisure Activities: Day-to-day activities like work and social interactions can act as distractions from depressive thoughts and feelings. However, in the evenings, when these routines cease, the lack of leisure activities can heighten feelings of loneliness and sadness, contributing to nighttime depression.
  5. Prolonged Use of Technology: Devices like smartphones, televisions, and computers emit blue light that can suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone regulating sleep-wake cycles. This suppression can alter sleep patterns and contribute to symptoms of depression.
  6. Overthinking: The solitude and silence of the night may result in a spiral of negative thoughts, encouraging rumination on past negative experiences or worries. This mental state can increase depression at night.

Managing Depression at Night: Strategies for Coping

Dealing with depression at night can feel daunting, even disheartening, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A variety of techniques are available to help alleviate the strain of nighttime depression:

  1. Craft a Restful Atmosphere: To combat depression at night, make your surroundings more conducive to relaxation and sleep. A restful atmosphere could involve investing in a high-quality mattress, maintaining a cool room temperature, minimizing light exposure, and eliminating any noise disturbances.
  2. Implement a Nightly Routine: Regularity is critical when it comes to managing sleep hygiene. Setting consistent times for both sleep and waking up each day can help regulate your circadian rhythm, potentially reducing the symptoms of nighttime depression.
  3. Engage in Rewarding Leisure Activities: A study from the National Library of Medicine suggests that participating in activities you enjoy can lead to psychosocial and physical enhancements that are beneficial for overall health and well-being. Engaging in leisure activities may help alleviate symptoms of depression, including those experienced at night.
  4. Embrace a Wholesome Lifestyle: Consuming a balanced diet and engaging in regular exercise can enhance sleep quality. It’s also important to limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine, particularly during the afternoon and evening, as these substances can disrupt your sleep cycle.
  5. Keep a Sleep Diary: Recording your sleep patterns and daily emotional states can yield valuable insights into what triggers your nighttime depression. Sharing these records with a mental health professional or a sleep disorder specialist can aid in pinpointing strategies to lessen the effects of nighttime depression.
  6. Explore TMS as a Treatment Option: The impact of nighttime depression on one’s quality of life can be profound. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic pulses to target specific brain regions associated with mood, has been shown to alleviate depressive symptoms, including those occurring at night. TMS works by modulating brain activity, thus enhancing mood and improving sleep quality. 

Integrative Healthcare Center and TMS for Depression Treatment

If you are struggling with depression at night and feel that your peace of mind and rest are affected, it’s time to seek relief, and at Integrative Healthcare Center in Nashua, NH, we are here to help. Our TMS treatment is a modern, FDA-approved option backed by solid scientific evidence. Our approach has benefited numerous patients, alleviating symptoms of both nighttime depression and depression in general. To begin treatment with TMS, contact us by calling (855) 599-9987 or visit our website. Regain the peace and rest you deserve at night.

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