How to cope with depression caused by the night shift?


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Page last updated: 10/11/2022

How to cope with depression caused by the night shift?

This blog answers: How to cope with depression caused by the night shift? What are the drawbacks of working night shifts? What is depression? What are the symptoms of depression? What are the treatment options for depression?

How to cope with depression caused by the night shift?

Some ways to deal with depression caused by the night shift are:

Prioritize your sleep

Research indicates that night shifts are associated with depression due to sleep disturbances. Thus individuals who work during the night must focus on their sleep duration and pattern to combat depression.

Individuals working the night shift must make sure that when they are about to go to sleep they block all the possible noise, light, and other distractions so that they can get complete rest.

Many individuals might also experience poor sleeping habits when they are not able to fall asleep after the night shift in such situations individuals must consciously replace their triggering thoughts and emotions with more positive ones to get some rest or even better take a stroll around until they feel sleepy.

Having a set sleep routine despite working night shifts can help to adjust the circadian cycle to the unusual sleeping hours. In worst cases where sleep is difficult for individuals working on the night shift, they can consult a sleep specialist.

Spend time with social groups

Working night shifts can be very distressing for many individuals where the entire routine gets jumbled up leaving very little space for individuals to socialize. Lack of socialization means a lack of sharing one’s emotions about their life and work.

In some cases, lack of socialization can gradually lead to fading off the strong bonds that individuals had with their friends and families making them feel lonely and depressed. Thus individuals must make time to interact with their close family and friends despite having a tight schedule so that they feel connected and can share their thoughts and emotions that are causing them a sense of distress.

Set boundaries

Individuals working the night shift who experienced low mood due to various internal and external conflicts must set boundaries Where they can prioritize their health, work, and personal life. This might involve informing their friends and family about their tight schedule and the hours that they are out of reach so that they aren’t disturbed in between their sleep time or their work hours.

Spend time exercising

Regardless of the difficult schedule, that night shift workers might experience they must allocate some amount of time during the day for exercise. Exercise is considered to be an activity that helps to enhance mood by producing happy hormones. Apart from this it also helps individuals stay healthy and fit.

Don’t underestimate your value

While setting boundaries with family and friends it is also important to set boundaries with work professionals, in that individuals must be very clear about their needs and demands and also make a clear cut between family time and work hours.

Individuals must not underestimate their value by giving in to the expectations of their employers each time even though it means being harsh on themselves and causing conflicts between their family members and them then must be assertive yet convey their value.

How to cope with depression caused by the night shift?

What are the drawbacks of working night shifts?

Some drawbacks of working night shifts are:

  • Interruption with the natural sleep cycle
  • Increased risk of breast cancer in women
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Increased risk of depression
  • Possible changes in metabolism
  • Increased risk of diabetes or obesity
  • Increased risk of gastrointestinal problems
  • Decrease in melatonin
  • Deprivation of essential vitamins

 What is depression?

Depression is one of the most common serious mental health conditions that negatively impact how an individual feels and thinks.

Depression is associated with feelings of sadness, a loss of interest in daily activities, and drastic changes in the energy level and the daily routines of an individual.

Depression in itself can lead to other physical and emotional problems which can be detrimental to a person’s functioning.

The symptoms of depression can vary from individual to individual from mild to severe depending on various factors.

Studies indicate that depression affects about 15% of adults every year and one in every six people experience depression at some time in their life.

Although depression can occur at any age it is more common among teenagers and early adults. Research indicates that women are more vulnerable to depression than men.

What are the symptoms of depression?

The characteristic symptoms of depression are:

  • Feelings of sadness or depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in activities enjoyed in the past
  • Changes in appetite leading to weight gain or weight loss
  • Changes in sleep patterns with very little sleep or long hours of sleep
  • Decrease in the level of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feeling guilty
  • Difficulty thinking and concentrating
  • In severe cases thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of depression must last up to two weeks and cause significant impairment in an individual’s daily functioning to meet the diagnosis of depression.

What are the treatment options for depression?

Depression though widespread is one of the most treatable mental illnesses. About 90% of people with depression respond well to treatment.

Some possible treatment options for depression are


Antidepressants are very commonly prescribed by doctors to individuals with depression. These medications are not sedatives or tranquilizers. They generally do not have any stimulating effects on people who do not experience depression.

Antidepressants usually show their effects within a few weeks. However, in cases where patients do not see any improvement after several weeks, they can alter their doses based on the suggestions provided by their health care practitioners.


Psychotherapy is also called talk therapy. It is used as a single mode of treatment for mild depression or for moderate to severe depression along with antidepressants.

Psychotherapy might involve the individual alone or other related individuals for instance the family of the concerned person.

Depending on the severity of depression psychotherapy might take a few weeks or much longer for significant improvement

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy where the therapist actively focuses on problem-solving. This is done by helping individuals replace their negative thoughts with more positive ones.

Electroconvulsive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy is a treatment model that is commonly used for patients with severe and major depression who usually do not respond to other lines of treatment.

It involves brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anesthesia.

Patients receive electroconvulsive therapy two or three times a week for a total of 6 to 12 sessions.

Self-help and coping strategies

Apart from therapy and medicine individuals can also carry out some self-help coping strategies such as carrying out regular exercises, getting sufficient sleep, indulging in pleasurable activities, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding alcohol to reduce their symptoms of depression


Research indicates that depression amongst night shift workers is primarily caused due to a disturbance in their sleep routine. Hence individuals must place the utmost importance on their circadian rhythm and its adjustments in such a way that they can get sufficient sleep, good food, and regular exercise to manage low mood and depression.

Frequently asked questions: How to cope with depression caused by the night shift?

Can working the night shift cause depression?

Many research indicates that individuals who work the night shift are at a higher risk of experiencing depression than others.

Does the night shift affect mental health?

Working on a night shift can have an adverse impact on one’s mental health. Many studies indicate a direct relationship between mood disorders and night shifts.

Does working the night shift increase anxiety?

Rotational shifts too often may increase the chances of anxiety in individuals along with decreasing their performance.

Does working the night shift shorten your life?

Night shifts are also referred to as graveyard shifts and put an individual at higher risk of heart attacks that might be fatal or even shorten one’s lifespan.