Morning depression (A guide)

In this article, we will present morning depression, its symptoms, causes, and some tips for its treatment. 

What is Morning Depression?

Morning depression is considered a hallmark symptom or a melancholic subtype of severe clinical depression.

It is sometimes called diurnal mood variation.

People with morning depression experience more severe symptoms of depression in the morning than in the afternoon or in the evening. 

The Symptoms of Morning Depression

People who have morning depression, have low mood and severe symptoms in the morning, however, they ease and get better during the day.

The symptoms of morning depression are:

  • Hypersomnia (sleeping longer than usual),
  • Difficulty waking up or getting out of bed,
  • Lack of energy at the beginning of the day,
  • Concentration and focusing problems,
  • Lack of interest in the day,
  • Irritability or frustration,
  • The difficulty of doing simple tasks, for example, taking a shower or making coffee,
  • Appetite changes, and others.

The Main Causes of Morning Depression

Circadian rhythms

According to a study, people with depression often have disrupted circadian rhythms.

The circadian rhythm, our body’s natural clock, regulates everything from heart rate to body temperature.

It also affects energy, thinking, alertness, and mood. These daily rhythms help you maintain a stable mood and stay in good health.

Even people who do not have depression can have sleep trouble if their circadian rhythm has some changes; the latter can cause depression.

Researchers know that people with depression are especially vulnerable to disturbances in their internal clocks and sleep patterns.

A person’s mood can be influenced even when he/she consciously change his/her sleep pattern, for example, goes to bed later or rises earlier to adapt to work. 

The rhythms of certain hormones, such as cortisol and melatonin, help the body for specific events.

For example, your body produces cortisol when the sun rises. This hormone gives you energy so you can be active and awake throughout the day.

When the sun sets, your body releases melatonin. The hormone that makes you sleep.

Changes in external light and dark signals

Changes in external light and dark signals, such as sunrise and sunset.

These factors can cause not only morning depression, but also other depressive disorders. 

There are also some other factors, that may cause morning depression: 

  • Alcohol or drug addiction,
  • Trauma,
  • Big changes in life,
  • Other disorders (for example, ADHD, sleep disorders, or anxiety),
  • A family history of depression.

Morning Depression Diagnosis

Morning depression does not have specific diagnostic criteria.

People who experience it struggle with major depression or another disorder.

To determine if you have morning depression, your doctor may ask you questions like:

  • Are your symptoms generally worse in the morning, in the afternoon, or the evening?
  • Do you have difficulties to wake up or get out of bed?
  • Do you have trouble to concentrate more than usual?
  • Do your mood change drastically during the day?
  • How do you recently feel about activities you usually enjoy?
  • Has your routine changed recently?
  • What increases your mood?

Tips for Morning Depression

If you experience morning depression, we suggest you some tips, that may be helpful:

Psychotherapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy can help you to deal with morning depression.

Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, can be useful too (you sit next to a lightbox, which has a bright light mimicking natural outdoor light). 

Medication

Various antidepressants are effective in treating major depression but are not useful for morning depression. 

Melatonin is a hormone that regulates circadian rhythm, so you should use melatonin supplement to cope with morning depression.

Research claims that melatonin’s synthetic form called agomelatine, which can be useful as well.

Agomelatine, though, is not available in the US yet; you can get the drug from the United Kingdom, under the brand name Valdoxan.

While selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are not useful in morning depression treatment, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may be useful.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

Through ECT, electric currents pass through the brain and change its chemistry, which can relieve depression symptoms.

Lifestyle changes  

  • Stick to your sleep schedule (sleep and wake up at the same time every morning), and try to get eight hours sleep,
  • Avoid taking naps or shorten them (if you take a long nap during the day, it may affect your night sleep),
  • Create an environment that promotes sleep (dark, and quiet),
  • Avoid using alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco,
  • Eat at regular times,
  • Do not skip breakfast,
  • Do physical exercises four hours before sleeping.

Morning Quotes

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. – Marcus Aurelius

In the morning a man walks with his whole body; in the evening, only with his legs. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you are bored with life – you do not get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you do not have enough goals. – Lou Holtz

He, whom every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through a labyrinth of the busiest life. – Victor Hugo

Each day is a little life: every waking and rising a little birth, every fresh morning, a little youth, every going to rest and sleep a little death. – Arthur Schopenhauer

Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write what you love, and love what you write. The keyword is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for. – Ray Bradbury

Recommended books and sources

  1. Effects of Melatonin on Diurnal Mood
  2. Ups and Downs: A Journal for Good and Not-So-Good Days (Mood Tracking Journal, Highs and Lows Journal)
  3. HFNE “Is Depression a Disability?”
  4. HFNE “Depression at Work”
  5. Making Peace with Depression: A warm, supportive little book to reduce distress and lift low mood
  6. Get it Done When You are Depressed

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

FAQs about the topic “Morning depression.”

Why am I so angry in the morning?

You can be angry in the morning because of morning depression.

It has the following symptoms:

– Hypersomnia (sleeping longer than usual),

– Difficulty waking up or getting out of bed,

– Lack of energy at the beginning of the day,

– Concentration and focusing problems,

– Lack of interest in the day,

– Irritability or frustration,

– The difficulty of doing simple tasks, for example, taking a shower or making coffee,

– Appetite changes, and others.

What triggers anxiety?

There are different anxiety triggers. Below are some of them:

– Health issues,

– Stress,

– Caffeine,

– Some medications,

– Negativity,

– Skipping meals,

– Conflicts,

– Social or public events,

– Financial concerns,

– Personal triggers and others.

How do I get out of bed faster?

To get out of bed faster, you should:

– Set the alarm clock to play a pleasant melody or music, 

– Put the alarm far from your bed, so that you will have to get up to turn it off,

– Open the curtains before going to sleep, so that in the morning the sun wakes you up,

– Do physical exercises; it will make you awake and active,

– Drink tea or coffee in the morning to get a little energized and active for work or other daily activities,

– Do something pleasant in the morning. For example, reading a book, watching series, playing a video game, or something else,

– Stick to your sleep schedule; sleeping and waking at the same time every morning for a while, you will notice that you wake up by yourself.

How can I be a morning person?

You can be a morning person if you try to follow these tips:

– Wake up, exercise and eat at the same time every day

– Use a smart alarm so that to turn it off you will have to solve a math problem, which will wake you,

– Use bright indoor light to trick your brain that sun is up, even if the morning is dark, 

– Do physical exercises; it helps you sleep better at night,

– Have a protein-heavy meal,

– Avoid the urge to nap and go to bed earlier instead.

What is making me so tired?

Possible causes of your tiredness can be not getting enough sleep, being stressed, eating unhealthy food, being dehydrated, or health problems.

How can I wake up without falling back asleep?

To wake up without falling back asleep, you should Set the alarm clock to play a pleasant melody or music, and put it far from your bed, so that you will have to get up to turn it off, and when you get up to make a cup of coffee or tea to get active.

It will be useful to do some physical exercises before drinking tea/coffee.

Conclusion

Morning depression is considered a hallmark symptom or a melancholic subtype of severe clinical depression.

It is sometimes called diurnal mood variation. People with morning depression experience more severe symptoms of depression in the morning than in the afternoon or in the evening.

It can be treated in several ways: by psychotherapy (CBT, phototherapy, or interpersonal therapy), medications, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and by some lifestyle changes.

Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References

  1. Morning depression: Why do I wake up depressed?

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