November 18, 2019
Why Sleep Deprivation Can Cause Anxiety and Depression
Written by Rachel Eddins
Sleeping patterns and mental health are two closely-related concepts. During sleep, your body and mind repair themselves and become stronger. Because of this, sleep deprivation can worsen or even increase your chances of anxiety and depression.
Around 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, and the problem is also significant in other locations around the world. Not only does poor sleep potentially increase your risk of suffering from anxiety, depression, and elevated stress, but those mental conditions can worsen your sleep patterns too. Sleep and mental health problems are part of a vicious cycle.
How Sleep Affects Your Mental Health
Sleep is a process that involves two major types of rest. The first kind of sleep is known as non-rapid eye movement rest. In this time, otherwise called “quiet” sleep, a person progresses slowly through four stages of increasingly deeper sleep. Your body temperature might drop, your heart rate and breathing slow, and the deepest stage of sleep even produces physiological changes to support the immune system.
The other kind of sleep, known as REM or rapid eye movement sleep, is when your dreams happen. In this stage, blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, and breathing increase to the levels that are similar to when you’re awake. Studies report that REM sleep is critical to learning, memory, and emotional health.
Although there’s still research to be done, scientists believe that sleep disruption affects stress hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain. This means that a lack of sleep can amplify and worsen the effects of psychiatric disorders.
Sleep and Its Impact on Anxiety and Depression
Usually, sleep is a restorative state, it helps us to handle the cleatiousemanyallenges of life. However, inadequate or disrupted sleep leads to increased tension and irritability. Sleep problems and insomnia can potentially increase the risk of developing depression in the first place. For instance, a study into 1,000 adults found that people who reported insomnia were four times more likely to experience issues of major depression by the time they had a second interview 3 years later.
Insomnia and sleep deprivation also affects the outcomes of clients with depression. Studies show that people who have issues with insomnia are less likely to respond to treatment for depression. What’s more, depressed clients who also can’t sleep are more likely to think about suicide than people who sleep normally.
Sleep deprivation also has a significant impact on people with anxiety. Currently, sleeping problems affect a huge number of adults with generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD. While insomnia might not cause you to develop an anxiety disorder, it can make your issue a lot worse. Some people develop issues with anxiety that are linked to the process of going to sleep. A disorder called sleep anxiety refers to feelings of panic that people get whenever they go to bed and attempt to fall asleep.
Insomnia can also worsen the symptoms of anxiety and prevent quick recovery. In cases of PTSD for instance, sleep disorders might force the mind to remain focused on negative memories and make it harder to respond to therapy.
Overcoming Sleep Disorders
The close connection between sleep deprivation and mental health means that it’s common for treatments for anxiety and depression to look at improving sleep quality for individuals with insomnia before other treatments begin. If a therapist can get to the bottom of an issue with sleep, they can help a client to take the right approach to treatment for anxiety and depression, with a rested and more receptive mind.
Sleep disorders can be a very upsetting and overwhelming experience for anyone. However, the good news is that there are treatment options to help you overcome sleep deprivation to start dealing with your anxiety and depression. From CBT to natural treatments, your doctor or therapist will help you to find the strategy that’s right for you. You’ll be back on your feet in no time!
Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, TX, has many qualified therapists that can help with sleep deprivation, anxiety, and depression. We also run a 7-week intensive CBT for Insomnia Group. Call us today at 832-559-2622 or book an appointment online.
Author Bio: Emily Melynn Alexander was born on the east coast of the USA but has called Colorado home since 2000. She has a degree in English and Political Science from Metropolitan State University of Denver. She loves two things – sleep and travel.
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