Do you feel depressed at night? Does your mood switch off as you switch off the lights? Well, you’re not alone.
Night time depression is one of the most common types of depression in the world. This unique phenomenon can not only affect your mood and behavior, it can also make you feel isolated, lonely, hopeless and anxious.
“Night is the blotting paper for many sorrows.” – Unkown
According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), over 17.3 million adults in the U.S. experienced at least one major episode of depression in 2016 alone. It is a serious mood disorder which different people experience differently. For some of us, the symptoms of depression increases significantly at night. Not only can it affect our mental and emotional health, nighttime depression can also affect our sleep leading to insomnia and other physical health issues.
But why? Why do some of us feel intensely depressed at night? Why does the darkness outside engulf us completely and dim the lights in our hearts and minds?
Darkness outside, darkness inside
Night time depression is one of those types of depression that creeps up on you when you least expect it. As the light starts to fade from the sky, you feel your heart getting heavier. As you head home after a long day, your gait becomes slower.
You feel your energy disappear & your mind feels clouded and lost. You try to tell yourself you’re fine. You try to feel as upbeat as you’ve been throughout the entire day. But you can’t. You try to distract yourself. Call someone close. Netflix and chill. But it seldom works.
As you lie alone in your bed, desperately trying to fall asleep, you feel the darkness outside seep into your body, mind, heart and soul.
The harder you try to sleep, the more difficult it gets. You feel complete chaos inside your mind. You breathe warmly as tears stream down your eyes and end at the corner of your lips. You taste the salty heaviness of the pain inherent in your tears. It’s silent outside. Everyone is sleeping. You’re all alone with only your lonely thoughts to keep you company. You want to talk to someone, but you don’t want to bother anyone at this hour with your depressive thoughts. You don’t know how to deal with it.
You feel hopeless. Tired. Exhausted. Drained. Sad. Confused. Frustrated. Lonely. And may be even worthless. You feel overwhelmed with emotions you manage to keep at bay throughout the day. You feel sleepy. But you just can’t fall asleep. Being alone with your thoughts is hauntingly painful.
Why are you depressed only at night?
“Night is the mother of thoughts.” – JohnFlorio
The main reason we experience night time depression is because we are alone with our thoughts. There are no distractions. And all we can do is face ourselves. We reflect and ruminate on everything that haunts our mind and heart. Unlike the daytime, when we are usually busy with work, people and various other things, night time is the period when we are forced to confront our emotions and thoughts.
Here are some of the most prominent reasons why you experience this devastating feeling of depression at night:
1. Reflection & rumination
Rumination is one of the major causes why most people experience depression in the evening. Rumination is a process where you think about past conflicts and events of the day repeatedly. As you are prone to ruminate when you’re alone, you start reflecting on issues trying to find multiple solutions and outcomes. As depression compels us to think about negative events, our mind becomes entangled in arguments, flights and disappointments & you rehearse how you could have done it better. Although it is normal, rumination usually leads to anxiety and depression.
2. Exposure to Light
When you are exposed to light during night time, it can result in enhanced feelings of depression. As light exposure affects how our mind works, it makes us prone to various mood disorders especially at night.