Why do I wake up feeling depressed in the morning?

Feel unhappy after waking up? You may have morning depression. Know what morning depression is and what to do about it.
You may feel low due to morning depression. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 13 May 2024, 10:30 am IST

There are times when people don’t get excited about waking up in the morning. They may feel low in the morning, but get better later in the day. Irritability and difficulty in waking up may make things worse. If you notice these symptoms every day after waking up, it may be due to morning depression, also known as diurnal mood variation. Poor quality of sleep and stress can lead to morning depression. Read on to know more about morning depression and the steps you can take to deal with it.

What is morning depression?

It is not unusual to wake up feeling a bit low. People often feel unhappy when they wake up in the morning. But this feeling fades away as the day progresses, according to the American Psychological Association. But morning depression is a subtype of clinical depression, says psychologist Pallavi Joshi. It is characterised by feeling more depressed, anxious, or agitated in the morning. It can significantly impact a person’s ability to function and can interfere with daily activities.

People with morning depression struggle to get out of bed. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are the symptoms of morning depression?

People with morning depression may notice the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or despair are typically more pronounced in the morning.
  • People with morning depression often struggle to get out of bed and may experience excessive sleepiness even though they slept through the night.
  • Persistent feelings of tiredness or low energy levels, even after adequate sleep.
  • Increased irritability or agitation, particularly in the morning hours.
  • Trouble focusing on tasks or making decisions.
  • Changes in appetite, which can manifest as either increased or decreased appetite.
  • Avoidance of social interactions and a desire to isolate oneself from others.

Headaches, body aches and digestive issues may also be signs of morning depression.

What are the causes of morning depression?

If you have a family history of depression or mood disorders, it may increase the risk of developing morning depression. Other causes, as explained by the expert, include:

1. Biological factors

Neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, are important when it comes to your mental health. While serotonin is associated with happiness, and calmness, dopamine and motivation have a connection. Imbalances in the neurotransmitters can contribute to morning depression.

2. Circadian rhythm disruption

Your body’s internal clock is the thing that tells you when it is time to sleep or get up. Disruptions in the body’s internal clock, such as irregular sleep-wake cycles or shift work, can exacerbate symptoms.

3. Stressful life events

Got divorced after being married for many years or lost a job? Major life changes, traumatic experiences, or chronic stress can all trigger or worsen symptoms of depression, says the expert.

How to diagnose morning depression?

Diagnosing morning depression involves a comprehensive evaluation by a doctor, which may include:

  • Undergo a physical examination to find out if there is any underlying health condition.
  • Evaluation of symptoms, medical history, and family history of mental health disorders.
  • Evaluation of sleep patterns and quality to identify any sleep disorders or disruptions.

How to treat morning depression?

It is essential to seek medical advice if you experience persistent symptoms of morning depression that interfere with your daily functioning or quality of life. Also, if you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, take immediate help from a doctor, suggests the expert. Here are some treatment options:

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1. Psychotherapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), or other forms of psychotherapy can help people develop coping strategies, challenge negative thought patterns, and improve mood regulation.

2. Medication

Your doctor may prescribe antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. These may help rebalance neurotransmitter levels and alleviate symptoms.

3. Light therapy

Exposure to bright light, particularly in the morning, can help regulate circadian rhythms. They may improve mood in people with morning depression, says the expert.

Sleep hygiene is important to deal with morning depression. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Sleep hygiene

Have a regular sleep schedule, and create a sleep environment that is comfortable for you. It can be using dim lights or using pillows of your choice. Also, practice relaxation techniques before bedtime to promote better sleep quality.

5. Lifestyle modifications

Engage in regular physical activity, eat healthy, avoid alcohol, and manage stress through activities such as mindfulness or meditation. These lifestyle modifications can support overall mental health.

Morning depression is a subtype of depression characterised by worsening symptoms in the morning hours. Taking medical advice on time, implementing appropriate treatment strategies, and adopting healthy lifestyle habits are essential for managing symptoms and improving overall well-being.

Natalia Ningthoujam

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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