People getting sad every now and then can be seen as one of the fundamental elements of human experience, especially during hard and trying times. However, when feelings of sadness, anxiety, disinterest and hopelessness kick in persistently, they turn into a serious illness affecting millions of people across the world. Depression cannot be taken lightly like something that can simply be ignored or willed away. Instead, it is quite a serious disorder capable of affecting how a person eats, sleeps, thinks, acts and feels. Though pinpointing the exact cause of depression is very difficult, but it can be controlled (if not eliminated totally) with appropriate diagnosis and timely treatment.
Defining a relationship between depressive illness and sleep is far complex than it might seem – more like the question of what came first, chicken or egg! Sleep problems may result in depressive disorders and depressive disorders might lead a person to sleep problems. Some people experience symptoms of depression before experiencing sleep problems, while other people might encounter with sleep irregularities before facing depressive disorders. In fact, depression and sleep problems are also known to share certain biological factors as well as risk factors along with some similar treatment strategies. Sleep problems are also capable of inducing depressive illness of high severity.
i) Insomnia, Sleep Problems and Depression
Depressed patients are commonly seen with insomnia. There is evidence to the fact that the risk of people suffering from insomnia developing depression is increased tenfold compared to those sleeping well. On the other hand, people suffering from depression are likely to suffer from a range of insomnia symptoms, such as sleep onset insomnia (difficulty falling asleep), sleep maintenance insomnia (difficulty staying asleep), daytime sleepiness and non-refreshing sleep. However, results obtained from various researches suggest that people with both sleep maintenance and sleep onset insomnia are at highest probability of developing depression.
ii) OSA, Sleep Problems and Depression
Obstructive sleep apnea, referred as OSA is also related with depression. Maurice Ohayon, MD, PhD, a Stanford researcher conducted a study involving 18,980 subjects from Europe. The evidence from the study suggested that people already having depression were 5 times more likely than other people in suffering from some sort of sleep-disordered breathing (and OSA is known to be most common type of sleep disordered breathing).
iii) RLS, Sleep Problems and Depression
Depressed mood can be an indication of OSA, insomnia or narcolepsy, just like RLS or Restless Legs Syndrome, a neurological condition resulting in discomforted legs and sleep problems. According to the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, about 40% of people affected with RLS complain about common symptoms that also indicate depression when evaluated without considering a sleep disorder.
iv) Insomnia and Women
Among grownup women, higher rates of depression can be witnessed due to hormonal changes taking place in menstruation and menopause in addition to the phenomenon of motherhood. However, this increase in depression might also be related to higher possibility of insomnia in these age groups. Though women are more concerned about their beauty, the relationship between healthy sleep and beautycan also be observed in males.
Living your life with depression can be much more challenging than you might ever perceive. It not only affects your sleeping patterns, but it can worsen to some chronic health issues like heart diseases. If you ever experience symptoms of depression, you better seek immediate medical attention not only to get healthy and quick sleeping tips from a medical professional, but also to get thorough examination and treatment.