When you feel sad all the time, sleeping becomes an opportunity for relief. Depression depletes your energy anyway, only adding to the desire to lie down and drift off to sleep. When your depressive state leads to sleeping too much, this condition is called hypersomnia, or the opposite of insomnia.
Excessive sleeping is a common symptom of major depressive disorder. Escaping emotional pain through sleeping more hours than usual may be a means of self-managing the depression, or the sleeping too much may be a physiological effect of the reduction of neurotransmitters common among depression patients.
When the symptoms of depression, such as hypersomnia, are so significant that they undermine your quality of life, it is time to seek professional help. Depression is a serious mental health condition that may lead to a daily impairment that can undermine all areas of life. When excessive sleeping has impacted your career or job security, your relationships, or your overall wellbeing, proactive steps to improve psychological health are in order.
Some Basic Facts About Depressive Disorders
Depression is the second most common mental health disorder experienced by Americans. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 17 million Americans are afflicted with this debilitating condition each year. Additionally, 2.3 million adolescents struggle with depression, further defining depression as a serious mental health threat today. In fact, suicide is now the second leading cause of preventable death among young people aged 10-34. These statistics underscore the importance of getting professional help for managing this serious mental health condition.
There are several different types of depression, with each type expressing unique features. Treatment for depression will be based on which particular type of depression is presenting. These types of depressive disorder include:
Major depressive disorder. MDD is the most widely diagnosed form of depression. A diagnosis of MDD results when five or more of the following symptoms are present for two weeks or longer:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, despair, or emptiness
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Difficulty making decisions or concentrating
- Sleep disturbances
- Changes in eating habits, weight changes
- Thoughts of suicide or death
Dysthymia. Dysthymic, or persistent depressive disorder, is a type of depression that persists for more than two years. Someone with dysthymia may experience periods of severe depression alternating with periods of mild depression symptoms for more than two years.
Postpartum depression. A woman who experiences serious symptoms of depression during and/or after giving birth has postpartum depression. The symptoms may be so severe that the mother is unable to care for her child or for herself. They may experience severe fatigue, exhaustion, and anxiety in addition to the intense sadness.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder. PMDD is related to a woman’s hormonal cycle, and features intensified PMS symptoms, such as angry outbursts, hopelessness, irritability, hypersomnia, excessive crying, and sensitivity to rejection.
Seasonal affective disorder. Climates further from the equator may lead to depression symptoms that are caused by a lack of sun exposure during the winter months. The individual may experience the symptoms of sleeping too much, weight gain, and isolation behaviors in addition to other depression symptoms.
Bipolar depression. This type of depressive disorder features alternating dramatic and unpredictable shifts between depressive and manic moods. The low mood episodes are classified as bipolar depression
What Causes Depression?
Depression is an extremely complex mental health disorder. Why is it that some people seem to manage serious life events, such as the death of a loved one, a job loss, divorce, or other traumatic events, while others succumb to depression? To date, science has not yet determined the exact causes or factors related to depression, although ongoing research continues to offer new clues.
For example, a recent study out of Japan reveals the action of certain protein signaling that may affect mood. The authors, Kobayashi et.al., state, “Taken together these findings suggest that RGS8 participates in modulation of depression-like behavior through ciliary MCHR1 expressed in the CA1 region.” Some of the factors that have been also been identified as contributing to depression include:
- Genetics. A family history of depression is one of the biggest predictors of the disorder. Individuals with a close relative who suffers from depression will increase the probability for other family members.
- Brain function. The neural connections, brain cell growth, and brain chemistry are factors in mood regulation. There is some scientific evidence that chemical imbalances in the brain may contribute to the onset of depression.
- Temperament. Personality traits, such as how excitable or how sensitive we are by nature can factor into depression.
- Stressful life events. People respond in their own unique way, often based on temperament, to stressful life events. Grief and loss, trauma, abuse, and many difficult life events can result in sustained and chronic depressed mood.
- Medical conditions. Some health conditions can contribute to depressions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus, stroke, HIV, Parkinson’s disease, and erectile dysfunction in men. Some medications can also cause depression as a side effect of the drug.
- Substance abuse. Alcohol or drug abuse may precede the onset of depression. The negative consequences that follow a substance use disorder may overwhelm the individual and depression can develop as a result.
How Depression Impacts Daily Life
Living with depression on a day-to-day basis can have a significant impact on quality of life. In addition to the low mood and persistent feelings of sadness, depression can leave the individual feeling unwell. This combination of symptoms will often result in reduced functioning at work and at home.
Sleep disruptions, including sleeping too much or sleeping too little, will wreak havoc with concentration, energy and stamina, memory functions, appetite, and can further intensify feelings of despair. When depression causes a person to literally not want to get out of bed all day it can cause a domino effect in all other realms. Hypersomnia may even lead to excessive absences at work and declining work performance overall.
Excessive sleeping also has a negative impact on the family dynamic. When mom or dad is holed up in bed the children who are depending on the parent may not have access to the care they deserve. This places more pressure on the well parent to take up the extra burden, which can have an effect on the relationship. Eventually, the impact of depression will touch all aspects of life.
Getting Help for Depression
The fundamental treatment protocol for depression involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy:
- Psychotherapy. One-on-one talk therapy sessions allow the therapist to guide the individual toward resolving unaddressed emotional issues that may be contributing to the depression. These may involve past trauma, childhood abuse, grief and loss, divorce, and other painful life events. Cognitive behavioral therapy is useful for helping to guide patients toward established more self-affirming thoughts that lead to positive thought/behavior patterns. Group therapy sessions, such as a depression support group, can also be beneficial to individuals being treated for depression.
- Medication. Antidepressant drug therapy is the industry standard for depression treatment. There are dozens of antidepressants on the market today. These include SSRIs, SNRIs, MAOIs, and tricyclic antidepressants. The drugs vary in how they impact brain chemistry, and dosing adjustments or even changing to a different drug is common when trying to find the best fit for each patient.
If the severity of the depression is becoming concerning it is appropriate to seek a residential mental health program to receive the highest level of mental health support. Although most individuals struggling with depression realize it is likely a temporary condition that will eventually pass, some may begin to believe things will never change. This can cause some to consider harming themselves. A residential mental health program will offer constant support and monitoring, as well as a more intensive and individualized approach to treating depression.
Holistic Activities Complement Depression Treatment
Psychiatry has begun to embrace holistic therapies as complementary to traditional treatment modalities for depression, as these activities can help reduce stress and induce feelings of calm. Some of the holistic treatment elements include:
- Yoga. Yoga involves slow, purposeful physical poses with a focus on breathing. Yoga is known to promote relaxation and reduce stress while also strengthening and stretching muscles, and reducing blood pressure and heart rate.
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture uses tiny needles to open up energy paths in the body thought to assist in the improvement of mind-body connectedness and wellness.
- Meditation. Mindfulness meditation is also helpful in training the brain to focus purposefully on the present moment, taking in the various sensory stimuli and focusing on rhythmic breathing.
- Exercise. The positive effects of getting regular exercise are caused by the release of brain chemicals, such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.
- Aromatherapy. Certain essential oils have been found to relieve symptoms of depressed mood. These include jasmine, citrus oils, bergamot, and chamomile oils.
- Nutritional counseling. A diet rich in lean proteins, nuts and seeds, fresh vegetables and fruits, oily fish such as salmon, beans, and whole grains can significantly contribute to mental stability.
Depression is a manageable mental health disorder. When the symptoms of depression lead to impairment in daily functioning, obtaining the support of a mental health professional is essential to recovery.
Elevation Behavioral Health Residential Depression Treatment
Elevation Behavioral Health is a Los Angeles-based residential program that offers intensive mental health treatment for depression. When outpatient interventions have been ineffective in improving quality of life, you may benefit from a more targeted treatment protocol. With deluxe accommodations and a highly attentive clinical staff, Elevation Behavioral Health strives to make the client’s stay a comfortable and healing experience. Elevation Behavioral Health offers a full daily schedule of therapies and adjunctive activities to help individuals struggling with depression reclaim their joy and return to healthy functioning. For more information about our program please contact us today at (888) 561-0868.