Woke Up Feeling Depressed? Here’s What You Need To Know About Morning Depression

Last Update on August 29, 2022 : Published on August 15, 2021
Woke Up Feeling Depressed

Depression is a condition that can take many forms and can present itself in many different ways. Some people experience general irritability while others experience a depressed mood when they wake up in the mornings.

If you wake up feeling depressed or if your mood is worse in the morning, it can be described as having ‘morning depression’. While not an official diagnosis, morning depression or diurnal variation can be a symptom of clinical depression, especially for depression with melancholic features.

In this article, I’ll help you explore the meaning of diurnal mood variation or morning depression, its symptoms, how to diagnose this condition, and how to get the right treatment.

 Let’s start by understanding the meaning of morning depression or diurnal mood variation.

What Is Morning Depression?

Morning Depression

People who struggle with mild depression along with other mood disorders may experience the symptoms during nighttime and will have a better mood during the day. For these people, symptoms of depression are worse during the night.

However, people who experience diurnal variation (especially with melancholic mood) are more likely to feel the symptoms of depression during the day. Depressed people, more often than not, don’t have a clear reason for their mood swings during the day.

In some ways, others compare diurnal mood variation with that of seasonal affective disorder as people with either disorder experience mood fluctuations. However, in SAD, the mood swings are influenced by the time of the year rather than the time of day, as in the case of morning depression.

What Are The Symptoms Of Morning Depression?

People who struggle with diurnal mood usually experience a low mood in the mornings but their mood improves as the day goes on. As I said, morning depression is a symptom of clinical depression so along with some common symptoms of depression, people with diurnal variation may experience:

  • Irritability or frustration
  • Extreme tiredness and fatigue upon waking up
  • Difficulty in performing morning tasks such as showering, making the bed, etc
  • No interest in pleasurable activities of the day
  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty waking up or getting out of bed
  • Hypersomnia

While there are no concrete causes registered as to why people experience morning depression, it is said that because of irregular circadian rhythm, some people may wake up feeling depressed or low.

When the natural pattern of wakefulness and sleep is disturbed, it can cause people to experience low mood, fatigue, and tiredness when they wake up. This disturbance and irregularities in the sleep pattern are one of the biggest causes of morning depression.

There are no specific criteria for the diagnosis of diurnal mood variation, however, your doctor can help you differentiate between morning depression, clinical depression, or any other depressive disorder by understanding your mood changes during the day and your sleeping habits.

Can Morning Depression Be Treated?

Yes, morning depression can be treated! If you’re experiencing diurnal mood variation or morning depression, it is recommended you speak to a professional psychologist to get the right diagnosis.

If you’re diagnosed with a specific depression, there are treatments available such as psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of both (depending on the severity of your condition).

Some common treatments to help with a diurnal variation or morning depression can be:

1. Light Therapy

Light therapy or phototherapy can help treat people with morning depression. Light therapy involves shining a bright light to mimic natural light on you while you sit a few feet away from the lightbox.

Light therapy can be used to treat many different mental health conditions including bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, PMS, seasonal affective disorder, and sleep disorders.

2. Supplements Or Medications

Several antidepressant medications can probably help you with your mood changes in the mornings. Taking supplements such as melatonin, the hormone that helps monitor your circadian rhythm can also help treat morning depression.

It is recommended that you do not take any medications or supplements without consulting your doctor beforehand. Some medications or supplements may have side effects that may worsen your depression.

Note: If you or your loved one is struggling with depression, you can contact these emergency helpline numbers for assistance as well:

Other self-help strategies to help cope with morning depression can be:

1. Avoiding Caffeine. Stimulants such as caffeine, tea, alcohol, or even nicotine can affect your sleep. Avoid taking caffeinated and sugary beverages before bed. Try to drink chamomile tea or other herbal drinks to help you sleep better and faster.

2. Creating A Sleep Space. Your bedroom must give a relaxing vibe. Keep the temperature down and cool. If you require use some relaxing, soothing music to help you sleep. You can also listen to sleep stories or practice sleep meditation before bed.

3. Getting The Right Light. When you go to bed, make sure there are no bright lights in your sleep space. Bright lights can trick your mind into thinking it’s morning hence affecting your sleep. Avoid using your phone, computer, or watching TV on the bed.

4. Avoiding Naps. Taking long naps during the day can also affect your sleep cycle and can make you feel grouchy and tired in the morning when you wake up. If you must take a nap, keep it short during the day.

5. Exercising Regularly. Regular physical exercise can also help elevate your mood and improve sleep quality. Many people find exercising in the morning energizing but if you find it difficult to exercise in the morning, make sure you take a few hours every evening to fit in a workout.

6. Maintain A Sleep Schedule. Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning can help you regulate your circadian rhythm, hence improving your mood when you wake up.

Final Thoughts

While diurnal mood variation is not an official diagnosis, it can be used to describe a low mood or when your depression is worse in the morning. It, however, can be a sign of clinical depression with melancholic features.

If your mood and other symptoms of depression are interfering with your daily activities, it is recommended you speak to a professional mental health counselor immediately. With the right diagnosis and the right treatment, you can learn to cope with your symptoms and live a happy, healthy life.

I hope this article helped you in understanding what is morning depression, its symptoms, and how to cope. To connect with trained and licensed therapists online you can click here.

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Take Care & Stay Safe

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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