morning depression

Depression is a common illness across the world, with over 264 million people affected. It is different from typical mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. Specifically, when it is intense and long-lasting, depression may become a severe health condition. It might cause the affected person to function poorly at work, at school, or in the family. At its worst, depression may lead to suicide. About 800 000 people die of suicide every year. Suicide is the second main cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. 


Read the blog and get to know about the basics of morning depression and how you can deal with it.


What Is Morning Depression?

Morning depression (which in scientific terms is known as “diurnal mood variation with early morning worsening”) is a common symptom of major depressive disorder (MDD).


But while MDD can make you feel bad at any time of the day, morning depression mainly makes you feel worse in the morning hours. This feeling often fades over the day. Remember, not everyone who has MDD will experience morning depression.


While there are some similarities, morning depression differs from mood changes that occur with seasons' change. It's also not the same as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is usually affected by the time of year rather than the time of day.


What Are The Symptoms Of Morning Depression?

Most people experience mood swings all through the day. The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests that it is not uncommon to have a low mood on awakening.


People with depression also have such wavering moods, but the difference is that their low mood is persistent and way too intense. People with morning depression can feel exceptionally low when they get up in the morning. The symptoms may reduce as the day progresses.


If you have five or more of the following symptoms, your doctor may diagnose you for depression:


  • reduced or no enjoyment in nearly all activities
  • fatigue or low energy throughout most of the week
  • significant changes in weight or appetite
  • difficulty concentrating, thinking or making decisions throughout the week
  • feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • a low mood continuing for most of the day, and almost every day, though it could be worse at specific times of day
  • sleeping too much or not able to sleep at all
  • a constant feeling of restlessness
  • frequent thoughts of death, suicide, or self-harm


An individual with morning depression can also perceive they find it challenging to:


  • avoid over-sleeping
  • get out of bed
  • wake up in the morning
  • think clearly, especially in the morning
  • carry out regular morning tasks, such as getting dressed


As the day progresses, the symptoms of morning depression get better or disappear entirely. If you are having recurrent thoughts of self-harm or suicide, seek medical assistance without further delay. Follow the instructions of your doctor sincerely and help yourself in combating such dangerous thoughts.

Also Read: Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms And How To Deal With Them

What Causes Morning Depression?

Doctors have not yet discovered a specific cause of morning depression, although there are numerous reasons why depression occurs, and hormonal factors could influence the timing of your symptoms.


The body clock

Several people experience mood fluctuations throughout the day. However, people with morning depression can experience more varying highs and lows than the majority of people.


As morning depression occurs around the same time each day, health experts have suggested that disequilibria in a person’s circadian rhythm could contribute.


The circadian rhythm, also called body clock, is a process that indicates the sleep-wake cycle, among other things. Hormonal changes that take place throughout the day have connections to this process. The cortisol hormone plays a crucial role in our body's stress response. The body clock helps regulate this stress response.


Other possible causes are:


Based on the findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many other factors can contribute to morning depression and major depressive disorder, including:


  • a family history of depression
  • using alcohol or some recreational drugs
  • trauma
  • a medical problem, such as cancer
  • life events, such as divorce or bereavement
  • the use of some medications


What Can You Do To Deal With Morning Depression?

The following tips will help you deal with morning depression more efficiently:


Sleep Well

Because poor sleep cycles are believed to be a facilitating factor in morning depression, enhancing your sleep cycle is an excellent first step. Try establishing a regular routine that you follow before going to bed. Your routine should get along well with your lifestyle, preferences, and habit, but you should emphasize being relaxed rather than stimulated. For instance:


  • Go to bed at almost the same time most nights. Get up at the same time, most mornings.
  • Electronics can keep you awake for too long unnecessarily. If you use these devices, please turn on ‘night mode’ about one hour before sleeping.
  • Instead of using electronic devices, try to do a relaxing activity before going to sleep. For instance, you can read a book, have a warm bath, practice mindfulness meditation, or play a musical instrument.
  • Alcohol and caffeine are known to perturb sleep. It would be great if you can avoid these things before bedtime. Caffeine is found in numerous foods including soft drinks and sweets.
  • Create a perfect environment for sleeping: choose the best type of mattress, pillows, sleepwear, lighting, and set pleasant room temperature.
  • Some of us just can't let go of our thoughts as we sleep. Consequently, they dwell on our psyche. Try to free your mind from any sort of concerns and worries before going to bed by writing them down in a letterhead.
  • Make preparations for the following morning in your bedtime routine.


Eat Nutritious Meals

A balanced diet that incorporates a plethora of fresh food can help us obtain the energy we require to work at our best. If you don't take the right quality food in the right proportions, it may decrease blood sugar levels and exacerbate depressive symptoms. Specifically, in the mornings, if we are battling with depression, we usually opt for the most straightforward breakfast we can have (if we care to eat at all). 


Generally, this will include processed foods or ingredients that might not offer the same nutritional value as of fresh, whole foods. It is essential to have a nutritious breakfast to bring back our blood sugar levels to a level where we can operate with greater efficiency. This helps to reduce fatigue resulting from morning depression.


A nutritious breakfast is a perfect way to start our day. Several foods are believed to help manage depression symptoms. The following are the names of the foods that you can incorporate in your diet- not only in breakfast but also in meals throughout the day. Have a look:


  • Dark leafy greens like watercress, spinach, and kale are rich sources of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin. Low folate levels may lead to depressive symptoms.
  • Dark Chocolate - yes, dark chocolate (but only in moderation). Cocoa beans comprise antioxidants that can minimize the risk of depression.
  • Other foods that are rich in antioxidants include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nuts.


Research says the less refined and the more natural the food is, the better it may help reduce depression symptoms. On the contrary, sugary, more refined, and caffeine-rich foods have an adverse impact on our moods. 


Wake Up Early, Do Interesting Things Each Day

Morning depression could make for a slow start to the day. However, this can mean getting up just in time to rush off to work, school, university, gym, etc. This could amplify the feelings of stress and anxiety, and even begin to affect other areas, including your job performance or relationships. 


It’s an excellent idea to buy yourself a little more time to get prepared in the mornings. Just ten minutes can make a considerable difference. It can also be advantageous to create a morning routine. Again, your routine should get along with your lifestyle, preferences, and habit, but start with the simpler, and smaller tasks that demand less energy. Such as:


  • Do a couple of stretching exercises just after you wake up in the morning. Consider it as an integral part of your morning routine.
  • Waking up to confusion and chaos can worsen morning depression. You can alleviate this by including specific morning preparations into your pre-bed routine. This can ease you of some of the decisions you make in the morning and also save some time. Decide what you're going to wear, make breakfast arrangements, keep your car keys and wallet or handbag in the same place every day. This will save you a lot of time which you would otherwise spend seeking those things. 


Remember to include an exciting activity in your morning routine. This can help to get you going. For instance, you may listen to your favourite music, play with your pet, or consider reading a book for a while. Different people enjoy different things. Choose one activity that would help you rejuvenate your mind and boost your energy.