What is Morning Depression and How to Cope?

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What is morning depression? How are your energy levels when getting out of bed?
Rising out of bed can be difficult. Photo via Unsplash.

Are your energy levels really low in the mornings? Do you find it difficult to get up to go to work? You may have morning depression. Find out more about what is morning depression, as well as symptoms, such as lower energy levels, and coping strategies.

What is Morning Depression?

Although words to describe the morning usually include freshness and vitality, this is not so for everyone. Many have what is known as ‘morning depression.’ Morning depression is said to occur when you feel low and depressed when you wake up each morning. You may have feelings of loneliness, emptiness or anxiety in the morning and the feelings generally reduce as the day wears on. However, it’s usually back in full force the next morning. Morning depression can make the start of the day tiring. And you may find it difficult to get to work and to be productive when you get there.

It can be tiring to undergo the up and down of emotions daily. Thankfully, coping strategies can help. It’s unfortunate that many of us believe that people who suffer from any form of depression (including morning depression) should simply pull themselves together and move on. It’s never that simple. However, the good news is that effective strategies can help you cope with morning depression.

In the medical community, morning depression is also called ‘diurnal variation’ where someone feels extreme sadness, emptiness, frustration, and anger. Also, you may also feel really tired and have low energy levels. Experts suggest that morning depression is often caused by a lack of sleep, both regarding quality and quantity. The most common reason is believed to be disturbed circadian rhythms (natural body clock) during sleep. Good sleep helps maintain stable health and optimal energy levels. As a result of disturbed sleep, the person does not feel well-rested when he or she wakes up, and they awake feeling depressed.

Identify the Symptoms

People who get morning depression typically have a range of symptoms, such as:

  • Intense agitation
  • Lack of concentration
  • Changes in appetite
  • Much lower energy levels

If you have what is morning depression, you may find it hard to do simple tasks like making coffee or taking a shower. As with other types of depression, your physical well-being might change as well. People often have bloating, constipation and higher vulnerability to infection because of lower immunity. Other effects of morning depression may include nausea and lack of appetite.

What is morning depression and how to cope

What Causes Morning Depression?

The causes differ from person to person. Reasons for this mental health condition can include:

  • Family history of depression
  • Medical history – Some meds are known to make sleep patterns erratic
  • Life trauma
  • Feeling grief or loss
  • Substance abuse

Coping Strategies

While a doctor may prescribe pills to provide relief, other coping strategies can help. For example, it’s a good idea to include exercise in your life. Walking, jogging or taking up a sport can help you get a good night’s sleep and improve energy levels in the mornings. Meanwhile, a lot of time on TV, social media, and mobile screens can significantly disrupt sleep.

You may also want to take a good look at your bedroom and how to better your sleep hygiene. For example, you can:

  • Darken your room
  • Keep the temperature cool
  • Get rid of distractions like smartphones and televisions

Also, try to keep your sleep times the same and get enough sleep every night. You may also want to consider laying out your clothes for the next day, make your lunch, and so on. This helps ease the pressure in the morning, so you feel less overwhelmed. You may also want to avoid heavy dinners as they can make you feel sluggish the next morning.

While you may need to see a doctor or psychotherapist for medication, using proactive coping strategies can help give extra relief.

By Greg Redmond, Director Counselling in Melbourne, 2018

This article on what is morning depression is for general educational purposes only. Do not be rely on it in place of individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or another qualified mental health professional.

22 COMMENTS

  1. This is interesting information, Christy. Although my energy level is good, since I’m a morning person, I often feel sadness and emptiness those first couple of hours. I get up extremely early, so I’m sure much of it revolves around lack of sleep. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Thank you Christy. One of the changes to my morning routine is to turn on the Happy Light and spend just a few moments “charging” for my day. I have one at work for those gloomy mornings as well. For me, this works.

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