Why Is My Depression Worse In The Morning?

by Dominique Lambright

Common depression symptoms include morning depression. Causes and coping methods are here. Depression symptoms and severity vary with the time of day for many individuals. If your depression symptoms worsen in the morning, you may have “morning depression.”

Morning depression is a typical mental health symptom, not a diagnosis. Morning depression is called diurnal mood variation or depressed symptom variation in medicine.

Diurnal mood fluctuation describes depressive symptoms’ intensity changes during the day. Diurnal mood fluctuations may cause more severe depression symptoms in the afternoon and evening. Individuals’ depression symptoms peak at different times of the day.

You’re not alone if morning depression is worse. Research indicates that individuals with depression endure diurnal mood swings and more severe symptoms in the morning. Morning depression may be treated like other depression symptoms.

What Are The Symptoms Of Morning Depression?

Morning depressives have worse general depression symptoms. Morning depression symptoms and intensity vary. However, certain symptoms are significantly elevated:

  • hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness or oversleeping)
  • trouble waking up
  • fatigue
  • Low energy or mental fog
  • Disinterest in morning activities
  • A sense of profound melancholy, emptiness, or despair
  • Emotional irritation, crankiness, or frustration

Morning depression may make getting out of bed, making coffee, and eating breakfast seem difficult. Things you used to like might now be boring or frustrating. Mood symptoms like profound melancholy might overwhelm.

Morning depression is common and acceptable. Depression symptoms at their worst in the morning may make it hard to start the day, which might affect your ability to operate.

What’s Behind Morning Depression?

Current medical knowledge links morning depression and diurnal mood variations to circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is your 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. It controls your sleep and waking times. Your circadian rhythm is affected by:

  • Light and darkness instruct your brain when to wake up and sleep, which sends messages to your body.
  • Hormones, like cortisol and melatonin: Your body creates more cortisol in the morning to wake you up. Your body creates more melatonin at night, which induces sleep.

Work or school hours, stress, anxiety, and exercise affect your circadian rhythm. In addition to sleeping and waking, the circadian rhythm affects:

  • body temperature
  • metabolism
  • hunger
  • physical healing
  • memory consolidation
  • mood
  • emotional coping

Disrupting your circadian rhythm disrupts your sleep-wake cycle. This may cause sleeplessness, weariness, brain fog, mood changes, and mental health difficulties.

A 2009 comprehensive study found that depression often disrupts circadian rhythms. The comprehensive analysis also reveals that abnormal circadian rhythms cause diurnal mood changes, worsening depressive symptoms in the morning.

A 2022 systematic review links mood state, diurnal mood changes, and morning depression to circadian rhythms. Similar to the 2009 comprehensive review, disturbed circadian rhythms may cause negative mood changes, which are stronger in the morning.

Tips For Coping With Morning Depression

Morning depression may be treated like other depression symptoms. Here are some places where you may attempt fresh techniques or improvements.

Sleep Hygiene

Like other depression symptoms, morning depression may be treated. Try changing or implementing new tactics in these areas.

  • Time your medication: Take sleep-inducing medicine at night. If your prescription wakes you awake, take it morning.
  • Eat earlier at night: Let your body digest meals before bed to induce nighttime fatigue.
  • Turn off screens: The blue light from computer devices disrupts sleep cycles. Stopping screen usage an hour before bed will help you fatigue faster.
  • Establish a sleep schedule: Maintaining a daily bedtime and waketime routine might help your brain and body create a rhythm.
  • Reduce stress (at least before bedtime): Your brain and body can sleep better if you calm down.

Bright Light Therapy

While bright light therapy is often used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), it is now being tested for nonseasonal depression.

In a 2016 research of 122 people with major depressive disorder (MDD), bright light therapy was shown to be an effective and well-tolerated treatment for depression symptoms, both alone and in combination with fluoxetine (Prozac).

Early in the morning, bright light treatment patients sit near a white light box. Light intensity determines treatment duration, which ranges from 30 to 2 hours.

Bright light treatment helps correct circadian cycles, among other reasons. Correcting circadian rhythms may assist morning sadness and other diurnal mood changes.

Before using bright light therapy, consult your doctor, as with any medical treatment.

Exercise & Movement

Physical activity may also reduce morning depression. A 2021 comprehensive study found that exercise may boost dopamine levels, leading to better mental health.

Dopamine affects motor performance and decision-making via communication between brain neurons.

Mood control involves dopamine. Depression is linked to low dopamine levels. However, high dopamine levels may boost motivation and happiness.

Walking or dancing may boost dopamine production, reducing morning depression symptoms.