Is hypersomnia a symptom of depression?

In the past, mental disorders may be seen as a taboo or something that is stigmatised as being crazy. Such perceptions began to change in the modern world as many people are now more aware and understand that having mental health issues is something that many people can actually have and there is nothing to be ashamed of when asking professional help for it. In this DoctorOnCall’s article, we will talk about hypersomnia and is it a symptom of depression.

Most people will think that depression is the same as feeling sad. This is entirely untrue. Depression is a mental disorder that can cause great hindrance to a person’s life and it does not go away just like that. Depression often involves a low mood and loss of pleasure or interest in activities that a person used to like. This often occurs for a long period of time. Depression does not equal regular mood changes and feelings of a person’s daily life. Due to the fact that depression can go unnoticed or be regarded as normal behaviour, a person that shows symptoms of depression should get evaluated by a mental health professional such as psychologist or psychiatrist.

Depression is a common mental disorder which accounts for 280 million people worldwide. Women are 50% more susceptible to depression compared to men. Depression is a serious mental issues as it accounts for more than 700 000 people that dies from suicide every year. Ironically, the number keeps on climbing and is the leading cause of death in youths.

Depression is diagnosed when symptoms are presented for at least 2 weeks. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms are feeling sad, irritable, loss of interest or pleasure in activities and feeling emptiness. Remember that depression is more than just feeling sad or low? This is because it can also cause symptoms such as trouble concentrating, feeling hopeless about the future, feeling very tired, changes in appetite or weight and thought of suicide or dying.

You may be familiar that people with depression often have insomnia or lack of sleep. Do you know that hypersomnia itself is actually a symptom of depression? Hypersomnia is the opposite of insomnia which means a person is sleeping excessively. Hypersomnia in general is the inability to stay awake in the daytime even if you already slept well at night. Hypersomnia can be caused by other conditions apart from depression such as sleep apnea and certain medications. Thus, to say that hypersomnia is a definite symptom of depression is inaccurate. Hence, people with hypersomnia symptoms should get medical advice and avoid self-medications.

Hypersomnia and depression are closely related as both of the conditions share similarity with the function of brain chemicals. These brain chemicals such as norepinephrine and dopamine play a great role in sleep and emotion. Changes to these brain chemicals can make a person at higher risk for mood or sleep disorders, or even both.

The good news is, depression, even severe one, is treatable. The earlier a person get treated, the more effective treatment can be. Depression is typically treated with medication and psychotherapy. It is common for patients with depression to get combination treatment to help patients get back on track with their life faster. Brain stimulation therapy such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) may be recommended if medication or psychotherapy does not improve symptoms of depression. Finding the right treatment may take time as no two people that are affected by the same depression and respond the same with a treatment.

Now that you have known roughly how depression is treated, how does hypersomnia be treated? Hypersomnia can be treated with medication such as stimulant medication. It is important for patients to ensure that the medication is prescribed by a doctor and to avoid taking medication without advice from their healthcare provider. Apart from medication, going back to basics which is eating a healthy meal and regular exercise can improve hypersomnia. This also helps to improve depressive symptoms on top of taking medication or undergoing psychotherapy.

Patients might want to fix or manage their sleep habits such as going to bed at the same time every night, providing a peaceful slumber environment and avoiding working late at night. Patients might also want to avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine. Whenever possible, patients are encouraged to avoid medicines that cause drowsiness in the daytime.

In essence, depression is a mood disorder. Mood disorders are part of mental disorders. These mental health problems should be addressed by mental health professionals and patients who have symptoms of depression should get checked by doctors. It is vital to treat depression because when left untreated, it can cause great danger to the patient. Hypersomnia should not be the only signs suggesting depression as it can also be signs of other health issues. It is important for those with sleep disorders to get help from health professionals.

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