Morning depression is a very real thing and if you’re consistently waking up feeling a little bit blue, morning depression could be having a greater impact on your health and wellbeing than you think.
Symptoms of tiredness, hopelessness, and emptiness, plus an apathy toward getting your day going are all indicators that you may be suffering from something more serious than a passing mood swing. If you are having intense feelings of depression, be sure to reach out to a medical professional for help.
The good news is that morning depression affects many people and there are some easy lifestyle changes to fend off the blues and prevent your morning depression from turning into something more debilitating.
If you’re waking up feeling depressed and getting your day going is a real struggle, read on for ten tricks to help people with morning depression.
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What Are the Symptoms of Morning Depression?
Waking up in the morning can be tough for anyone, but it’s worse if you’re experiencing morning depression in your daily life.
There are many forms of depression described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), for example, you may be familiar with postpartum depression or winter depression.
However, another common (yet less well-known) form of depression is known as diurnal mood variation or morning depression.
Those with diurnal mood variation may find that symptoms are more intense in the morning and improve as the day goes on.
If you do have morning depression, you may be regularly suffering from some of the following effects of depression:
- Sleeping more than usual
- Finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning
- Having difficulties completing your usual morning tasks and activities
- Being more irritable in the mornings
- Having no drive or motivation to get started with the day ahead
Morning depression can also be a sign or precursor to severe depression. People with depression may experience the following depressive symptoms:
- Lack of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness
- Feelings of emptiness
- Intense sadness
- Extreme tiredness and lethargy
- Poor sleep or insomnia
- Extreme sadness
If the symptoms you’re experiencing align with the latter or you have a history of depression, speak with a medical professional. If they align more with the former, there are some great techniques to combat your morning depression.
10 Techniques to Fight Off Morning Depression
If you’re waking up down, you probably want to know how to wake up feeling refreshed and beat those morning blues. If you can make just a few easy lifestyle changes, your day will be noticeably better.
There are lots of non-pharmaceutical treatments that can help alleviate symptoms or work in tandem with your antidepressants to boost your mood. Try these.
1. Let morning light flood into your bedroom
Allowing natural light to flood into your bedroom in the morning is a good way to battle feelings of brain fog or lack of motivation to start your day.
According to studies, morning light increases alertness.
Morning light is also one of the natural elements that aligns your circadian rhythm and gives your brain the signal that it’s time to wake up.
Using the power of nature to get your circadian rhythm back on track will help you to wake more naturally and with more energy than if you black out all the light in the morning.
2. Get your body moving first thing
A bit of exercise can really get the blood pumping and stave off those depressive symptoms. The boost of energy will set you on the right track for the day ahead.
According to studies, just 10-30 minutes of consistent, moderate-intensity exercise can help alleviate a depressed mood, reduce stress, and improve physical fitness.
If you’re a busy person, there are plenty of great free or low-cost workout programs that will do the trick, such as road running or walking in the local park. You could also try one of these morning yoga 15 min videos to kickstart your day.
3. Regulate your circadian rhythm with a consistent sleep schedule
One of the most commonly recommended strategies by sleep experts to battle all kinds of sleep and wake related issues is to get yourself on a consistent sleep and wake schedule.
Dr. Shelby Harris says,
“We are meant to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, seven days a week. We do not have a different alarm for the weekdays vs. weekends. If you are having trouble sleeping, consistency every day as much as possible is key.”
You should be aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. You can just do the math and work backward. For example, if you need to be up for work by 6 AM, your bedtime should fall between 9-11 PM every night.
Once you prioritize getting 7-9 hours of sleep on a regular schedule, you will notice that you probably don’t even need an alarm in the morning and you wake feeling more refreshed.
4. Try light therapy
Light therapy, also known as bright light therapy or phototherapy, is a strategy recommended by doctors to alleviate symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and other types of depression.
In light therapy, you are exposed to artificial light treatment which is thought to release brain chemicals to help ease depression symptoms.
Light therapy is safe, cost-effective, and fairly simple. You just sit or work near a box called a light therapy box for a period of time recommended by your doctor.
It’s most effective if done first thing in the morning.
5. Start with a nutritious breakfast
There are so many healthy breakfast options to choose from. Whether you like sweet or savory, are on-the-go or have time to sit down, there is something for you.
A healthy breakfast gets your day started on the right foot. Mentally, it’s something you can feel good about right from the get-go. Physically, it provides you with the nutrition and mood-stabilizing endorphins that can help with your morning depression.
Plus, it gets your energy level up so you won’t have such a tough time getting through the morning.
6. Write in a journal first thing
A morning journal is a simple, cost-effective way to improve your morning depression symptoms.
Studies show that journaling can reduce stress and anxiety among certain groups of people. If you feel anxious at any time of day, you can pick up your journal and do some writing.
Writing down positive affirmations before you start your day can get your mind on the right track from the get-go, or just let your mind flow and write creatively. There’s no right or wrong way to journal.
7. Try CBD as a treatment for chronic depression
CBD (cannabidiol) is derived directly from the hemp plant and is a natural remedy that is becoming increasingly popular.
Besides providing relief for a multitude of other medical conditions, studies show that CBD works as an antidepressant for conditions like chronic depression and diurnal mood variation.
If you’re new to CBD, don’t worry, you can pick up a CBD starter kit to help you figure out what works best for you.
8. Create an enjoyable morning routine
The power of a good routine, whether it’s a bedtime routine or an enjoyable morning routine, should not be underestimated.
Think about how you feel when you have something to look forward to. You’re more hopeful and motivated to get to that point.
Research shows that a morning routine helps to combat sleep inertia, so your feel less sluggish and more motivated in the morning.
Include activities that are healthy and make you happy. Need some help? There are plenty of healthy morning routine ideas that you can try out.
9. Raise your core body temperature with a warm bath
Besides sounding like a nice way to start your day, research shows that a warm bath that raises your core body temperature can have a positive effect on depressive symptoms.
The temperature should be around 104o Fahrenheit (40oC). If you are a busy person, don’t worry, the positive effects were shown among people who took a warm bath just two days a week.
Break out those bubbles or essential oils and hop in the tub.
10. Ask your doctor about serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
If you have tried natural remedies and lifestyle changes but you’re still feeling like you can’t shake off your morning depression, it may be time to talk to your doctor about serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), a type of antidepressant medication.
SNRIs help ease symptoms of depression by affecting the chemical messengers that communicate between brain cells.
If your symptoms start to worsen at any point, seek help from a medical professional or trained specialist as morning depression can worsen to major depressive disorder if left untreated.
To Sum Up
Just because you’re waking up feeling depressed doesn’t mean you have to live like this forever. Even if you have a vulnerability to depression, there’s ways to help kickstart your day on a better note.
There are plenty of recommended, tried-and-true remedies and lifestyle changes that can have positive effects and help you wake up feeling ready to tackle the day.
Don’t let morning depression ruin your day before it’s even begun. Try the CBD Starter Kit as a long-term pharmaceutical-free solution to morning depression.
Welcome to Snoozerville! I’m Dr. Alex Hartley, your guide to the world of restful sleep. With a Ph.D. in Sleep Science and years of experience as a sleep therapist, I’ve dedicated my life to understanding and improving sleep quality. My passion lies in uncovering the mysteries of sleep and sharing practical, science-backed advice to help you achieve the best rest possible. Beyond my academic pursuits, I’m an advocate for mindfulness and relaxation techniques, which I incorporate into my daily routine. At Snoozerville, I aim to transform your nights, combining the latest research with easy-to-implement tips. Whether you’re a chronic insomniac or just looking to improve your sleep hygiene, join me on this journey towards peaceful, rejuvenating sleep.