Can work on a 3-11 shift lead to depression? (+How to cope)

This article will discuss if working in a 3-11 shift can lead people to become depressed. Aside from that, the article will explain why this may happen, and what are ways people can cope with it.

Can work on a 3-11 shift lead to depression? 

Yes, it is possible that working a 3-11 shift can lead you to become depressed. Working in these hours will usually lead to some changes in your life that can end up taking a toll on your mental health. 

This shift, which is known as the second shift, will often cause a change in the person’s sleeping pattern, which can make them more irritable, and moody. It will also make it harder for the person to maintain their life according to the hours of society, which can lead them to feel isolated. With time, all of that can lead them to become depressed.

In a research done with American shift workers, in 2015, two-thirds of them said they felt like working on the second, or third shift (the one between midnight, and early morning hours), which harms their mental and physical health.

It is important to remember that people who work on the second shift are all around us, they can be nurses, employees at call centers, work in retail, food services, or even have quality control positions, which is why we should strive to improve the conditions of their work.

There are some reasons which can lead second shift workers to depression. The first reason is related to the quality of their sleep. Research done in 2007 discovered that people that work on shifts will have lower levels of serotonin, which can impact their sleep, but also, their mood.

Working the second and third shifts will also have an impact on your cognitive functions, especially your memory. Aside from that, those people will have slower processing speed, and less overall brain power when compared to people that work only daytime shifts.

It seems that depression in workers of the second shift can mostly be connected to a rupture in their circadian rhythm, which is responsible for the release of hormones in your body. 

Because of that, a research made in 1997 and published by the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, said that late-night shift workers have a higher chance of developing Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

Another research from 2008, which was published in the International Journal on Disability and Human Development, showed that people that work shifts will have a higher risk of developing or making their mood disorders worse, especially if they are vulnerable to it. Indicating the toll that working on shifts can have on your mental health.

And even though people working on the second shift may feel a sense of relief for working those hours rather than the hours of the third shift, which completely change the person’s sleep schedule, and can also lead them to social isolation, there is still a need to protect the overall health of the second shift workers.

So if you are a second shift worker, and you have been feeling depressed, there are some ways you can cope with it. Let’s learn what they are.

How can I cope with depression from working a 3-11 shift? 

Although it may sound strange to some people, working the 3-11 shift, also known as the second shift, can also have an impact on your mental health, and make you more vulnerable to depression. If you are experiencing it, here are some ways you can cope.

Care for your sleep 

There is a clear connection between sleep and mood disorders. Frequent changes in your sleeping hours or patterns can make you more susceptible to developing mental health issues, making you more irritable, angry, and even depressed.

When you are sleeping it is the time in which your body will recover from all it went through the day, so if you don’t give it that opportunity, it can harm you.

So when you are working the 3-11 shift, you should try to make the best of the sleeping hours you have. Surely you will go to bed a lot later than other people, but find a way to have a good night of sleep. Get a curtain that will block the light from your window, and find a way that there isn’t a lot of noise around you in the early mornings. 

So you can sleep better, you should avoid taking anything containing caffeine up to 6 hours before your bedtime. And if necessary, you can take melatonin, which is the sleep hormone and can make it easier for you to fall asleep. 

Try to keep a sleep routine, in which once you are home, you shouldn’t be in front of screens, and can take a warm and relaxing shower to help you sleep.


Working out has many benefits to your mental health, and will also improve your sleep. It is something that will reduce your stress levels, and help you manage your depressive symptoms. Science has shown that 40 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise will improve your mood and attention.

And although it can be hard for you to find time in your schedule to exercise, some people have said that working out before your shift will improve your energy levels, and make you feel better while working.

Spend time with your loved ones

It can be hard to keep a social schedule when you are working a 3-11 shift, and that can make you feel lonely and isolated. With time, this can harm your mental health.

Try to take some time to be with your loved ones. This may involve making some planning, so try to talk to them and make plans to spend some time together. You can plan a small trip on your days off, or have breakfast or coffee in the morning with friends and family.

All of that can give you a sense of belonging and connectedness, which can do wonders to your mental health.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Can working on a 3-11 shift lead to depression? 

Can night shift be related to a shorter life?

Yes, long-term research that aimed to evaluate how working night shifts impacted people’s life showed that women that worked rotating night shifts for more than 6 years had their lifespan shortened by 11%.

Aside from that, the researchers discovered that in that a group that worked the night shift from 6 to 14 years had 19% more chances of developing cardiovascular disease, and 23% for those who worked for 15 years or more on the night shift.

What is a fuzzy brain?  

The fuzzy brain, also known as brain fog, is a condition that can happen when a person is feeling too stressed, is having some trouble sleeping, or is spending too much time facing screens. It will cause the person to have trouble with their memory, and their ability to pay attention.

It can also cause the person to feel confused. When you are experiencing brain fog, it is most likely because your brain is going through inflammation, and some hormonal changes that are impacting your mood, energy, and focus.

When you have a fuzzy brain, you may have trouble sleeping, headaches, fatigue, and trouble in your cognitive functions. You can also become more irritable, have low motivation, and can even become mildly depressed.

To cope with a fuzzy brain you should try to keep healthy life habits and try to exercise. Spending less time in front of screens will also help, as well as managing your stress more positively. Having activities you love in your day-to-day life will also help you manage a fuzzy brain.

How can I care for my weight when I am a shift worker?

If you work as a shift worker, the stressful routine can make it harder for you to keep a balanced life, especially if you are trying to lose weight, or maintain your weight. So if you want to care for that, one thing you can do is plan the snacks you can have during work.

Try to keep them healthy, and also ones that will give you energy. Like yogurt, and fruits. You should also avoid taking things that are processed and keep your diet as healthy as possible. 

Having a schedule to eat, even if your shift can change time, will give you a notion of when you will have a meal, which can prevent you from overeating or eating less than you need to.

Working out is also an important thing when losing weight, even if you are working a shift. But not only that. Working out will also let you care for the high cortisol levels, which are responsible for making you feel stressed. Try to keep exercising as part of your routine and feel the many benefits this can give you.

How shift work affects my brain?

It seems that shift work, even more so the ones that impact your circadian rhythm, has an impact on your brain. Working in shifts can lead to some disturbances in your cognitive performance, meaning it can make it harder for you to focus and memorize things.

Working shifts can also make you more susceptible to errors, and make you more fatigued. But even though you may feel tired, it can be that people that work on the second or third shift can have trouble with their sleeping pattern, and can experience insomnia.

What are the most common symptoms of depression? 

Depression will most often lead you to feel sad, it can also make you lose interest in things, even the ones you love. Your energy levels will also go down, in the same way as your ability to focus, your self-esteem, and your sense of self-worth.

Aside from that, people with depression can feel like they lost their purpose, and are empty. They can also become hopeless, more irritable, isolated, and feel guilty. Depression will also change their eating and sleeping patterns, and cause a person to cry more often.

Some people, when feeling depressed can also act in self-harm, and can have thoughts of death, and suicidal thoughts.


This article showed that working in a 3-11 shift can lead people to develop depression. Aside from that, the article explained why this can happen, and what are ways people can cope with it.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.


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