Friday, 27 April 2012

Depression Awareness Week: Raising awareness of the link between depression and REM sleep

From 22nd - 28th April 2012 it is Depression Awareness Week, when charities and mental health campaigns work hard to raise awareness of depression and the great impact it has on the lives of sufferers.

In this post I would like to focus on the link between depression and dreaming, as this is an overlooked element of depression and is often the key to understanding and treating this disorder.

To understand how dreaming is relevant to depression, look at the following cycle of depression which begins with innate emotional needs not being met:

Dreaming is designed to de-arouse unresolved emotional expectations during the day. Of course, worrying about unmet meets constantly generates a lot of unresolved emotional arousal, leading to intense dreaming.

REM sleep is very resource intensive (the brain uses up almost as much energy as when you are awake) so it is no surprise to notice that after intense dreaming, a depressed person often wakes up feeling more tired than when they went to bed.

Lack of motivation in depression

Lack of motivation during depression, a feeling that can make even opening a can of beans an insurmountable task, is directly due to too much REM sleep. This is because emotional expectations are the motivation behind everything we do, from making a cup of tea to writing a thesis.

To stop the cycle of depression the depressed person must focus on getting innate needs met, which inhibits worrying. This brings REM sleep back into a healthy balance, raising motivation in the morning and ensuring you wake up feeling refreshed instead of tired, calm instead of stressed and with a higher capability to solve problems.

Our website, focuses on practical ways to understand and treat depression.

Find out more about dreaming at our dedicated Why We Dream website.

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