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The Connection Between Hypersomnia and Depression

In addition to negatively impacting a person’s mood and state of mind, depression can also affect their energy level and need for sleep. For some people, this mental health disorder makes it difficult or virtually impossible to fall asleep and stay asleep. For others, it leads to excessive sleeping and persistent exhaustion. In this post, we will focus on the latter phenomenon as we explore the connection between hypersomnia and depression.

What Is Hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia is the medical term for excessive sleeping and sleepiness. It is the opposite of insomnia, which is a more common term that you may be familiar with. People who have hypersomnia may sleep much more than normal, yet still feel exhausted. 

Hypersomnia can be a neurological disorder, or it can be a symptom of another physical or mental health concern. Potential causes of hypersomnia can include the following:

  • Narcolepsy
  • Sleep apnea
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Certain medications
  • Drug abuse and withdrawal
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Depression

The Connection Between Hypersomnia and Depression

Like many other mental health disorders, depression can have a significant effect on a person’s physical health. The potential physical impact of depression can include exhaustion, weakness, headaches and stomach aches, and both insomnia and hypersomnia. 

When a person develops a depressive disorder, they may find it virtually (or, in some cases, literally) impossible to get out of bed. This may be due to overwhelming sadness, loss of motivation, and/or extreme fatigue. 

Certain neurotransmitters may be responsible for the connection between hypersomnia and depression. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry messages throughout the central nervous system. When a nerve cell generates an electrical signal, or impulse, neurotransmitters convey this impulse to other nerve cells, muscle cells, or glands.

The connection between hypersomnia and depression may involve two neurotransmitters: serotonin and norepinephrine.    

  • Serotonin is involved with functions such as mood, appetite, sexual desire, memory, learning capacity, and sleep.
  • Norepinephrine is an important part of the body’s fight-or-flight response. It can also influence memory, mood, and the sleep-wake cycle.

As you may have noticed in the two brief descriptions above, serotonin and norepinephrine can both impact a person’s mood and their sleep patterns. This means that abnormal levels of these chemicals may increase the likelihood that a person will struggle with both hypersomnia and depression.

Serotonin and norepinephrine are targeted by two of the most widely prescribed types of antidepressants. We’re referring here to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

The category of SSRIs includes Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, and Zoloft. Common SNRIs include Effexor, Pristiq, and Cymbalta.

As serotonin and norepinephrine pass chemical messages throughout the central nervous system, they are slowly reabsorbed by the nerve cells they interact with. SSRIs and SNRIs block the body’s ability to reabsorb these chemicals. With more serotonin and/or norepinephrine in the person’s system, they may experience improvements in both hypersomnia and depression.

Effects of Hypersomnia and Depression

Man struggling with both hypersomnia and depression is looking for the best treatment

Getting an appropriate amount of sleep on a regular basis is important for both physical and mental health. Most awareness efforts about poor sleep focus on the dangers of not getting enough shuteye. But in addition to depression, hypersomnia can also be dangerous. 

Excessive sleeping and persistent exhaustion can put a person at risk for effects such as the following:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Slips and falls
  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Unsatisfactory performance in school or at work
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease

If a person’s hypersomnia is related to an untreated depressive disorder, they may also be at risk for the following negative outcomes:

  • Conflicts with friends, family members, and colleagues
  • Onset of co-occurring mental health concerns
  • Medical problems due to poor self-care
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Loss of hope for the future
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Treatment for Hypersomnia and Depression in Atlanta, GA

Treatment for hypersomnia and depression can take many forms. The elements of care that are included in a person’s treatment plan can depend on a variety of personal factors, including whether the individual has any underlying medical concerns or co-occurring mental health disorders.

If the person’s struggles with hypersomnia are related to depression, then treating the depression may resolve the sleep problems. In many cases, treatment for depression involves a combination of prescription medication and psychotherapy.

As mentioned earlier in this post, several medications can ease many symptoms of depression. At Peachtree Wellness Solutions, adults who are receiving care for a depressive disorder will be assessed by a healthcare provider who can prescribe medication as needed. This professional can work closely with the individual to determine which medication and which dosage level is best for them.

Therapy can help people learn how to manage any symptoms that are not alleviated with prescription medication. Therapy can also help people develop the skills that will allow them to better manage stress, resolve conflicts, and otherwise address circumstances that can trigger the onset of depression symptoms.

The following types of therapy and related services have proved to be effective at helping people who have depression:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Psychiatric services
  • Genetic testing
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Biosound therapy
  • Neurofeedback therapy
  • Red light therapy
  • Spravato therapy

Begin Mental Health Treatment at Peachtree Wellness Solutions

Peachtree Wellness Solutions provides multiple levels of personalized care for adults who have depression and other mental health concerns such as hypersomnia. Our mental health treatment center in Atlanta, Georgia, is a safe and welcoming place where adults receive evidence-based services from a team of dedicated professionals. To learn more about how we can help you or someone you care about, give us a call or visit our admissions page today.