Waking up exhausted after many disturbing dreams is a common experience for many depressed people.
It has been shown that depressed people dream up to three times as much as non-depressed people but why should this be? And does this have anything to do with feeling so short of energy first thing in the morning?
The answer is yes, it does, and we know exactly why.
The latest scientific understanding of dreams tells us that we dream for specific biological and psychological purposes.
Emotionally arousing ruminations which are unfulfilled at sleep onset (i.e. the concern is still a worry) get ‘dreamed out’ metaphorically during dreaming. This is done to leave the ‘higher brain’ (neo-cortex) free for dealing with the next day's events.
Dreaming literally takes the ‘charge’ out of a concern. However dreaming is a very distinct part of sleep. It’s called ‘paradoxical sleep’ because it is not the part of sleep which provides us with rest. During the dream phase of sleep (REM), we actually have more of the ‘stress hormones’ such as adrenaline in our systems.
So over-dreaming stresses the system leaving us exhausted when we awaken. If a depressed person is woken every time they show rapid eye movement (which generally coincides with dreaming) then the symptoms of clinical depression can lift. But they may become extremely anxious or manic as the negatively arousing ruminations are still occurring but no longer being ‘flushed out’ by the dream process.
Nature sometimes tries to prevent the person over-dreaming by causing them to awaken in the early hours of the morning so that they spend less time in dream sleep. This is known as early morning waking syndrome.
So why do depressed people dream more?
Depressed people dream more because they have more emotional arousal to ‘dream out.’ Depression causes (and is caused by) a lot of emotionally-arousing introspection, or rumination, that endless sort of worrying that never seems to go anywhere and just makes you feel bad.
The importance of this discovery cannot be overstated. We now know why most of the symptoms of depression occur, and what to do about them.
If you are depressed, there are clear things you must do:
Mark Tyrrell and Roger Elliott of Uncommon Knowledge.
SOOTHING EMOTIONS WILL GUIDE YOU WITH RESEARCH, ARTICLES, AND INTERACTIVE TOOLS TO HELP YOU ON THE JOURNEY OF NAVIGATING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH.
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living.
More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn't a weakness and you can't simply "snap out" of it. Depression may require long-term treatment. But don't get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychological counseling or both.