How To Get Out of Bed When Depressed
Depression and other mental health conditions can make small daily tasks more difficult, including getting out of bed in the morning. It can help to have friends and family members to help with small tasks, but there are some things you have to do yourself. That includes getting out of bed in the morning.
When your loved ones can’t help, there are ways to work with and around your mental illness so you can go about your day. Learn more about getting up, even during a depressive episode.
How to recognize symptoms of depression
Clinical depression, or major depressive disorder, is a mood disorder with plenty of recognizable symptoms. It can come on its own, or alongside other mental health issues. If you already know you struggle with bipolar disorder, BPD, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, or certain other mental illnesses, you may want to talk to a mental health professional about depression.
There are a few different types of depression. One of the most common is major depressive disorder, which is a fairly consistent low feeling. You can get it from a chemical imbalance in your brain, mostly serotonin (the “happy chemical”), or as a side effect of a medication. You may also have atypical depression, where you do get happy when something fun or exciting happens, but go back to a low feeling once it’s over.
Certain forms of depression come only at certain times, like PMS or seasonal affective disorder, or after certain events, like postpartum depression.
Whatever your form of depression, there are certain common symptoms of depression to look out for. A consistent low, sad, or hopeless feeling may accompany your depression. Depressed people may be unreasonably frustrated or upset by small setbacks. You may have issues with eating, lose interest in sex, hobbies, or activities, or have difficulty thinking. If, at any point, you experience suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline helpline at 800-273-8255 for immediate support. They are available 24/7.
Another common problem with depression is issues with sleep. You may experience sleep problems on either end of the spectrum. Both insomnia and oversleeping are associated with depression.
Why it’s hard to get up on mental health bad days
Developing good sleep habits can already be difficult even before you factor mental health issues into things. Sleep problems are so common with depression that it’s actually abnormal NOT to have problems with your sleep schedule while depressed. Sleep issues and depression also often feed into each other, each making the other worse as both continue.
Insomnia is the most common problem associated with depression, but hypersomnia (sleeping too much) is a depression-related problem. With insomnia keeping you up at night with negative thoughts, your energy levels get low without sleep to replenish them. If you experience hypersomnia, you are, instead, overly tired no matter how much sleep you get. Either way, you’re likely to be exhausted or otherwise low energy when it’s time to get out of bed in the morning.
Besides being actively tired, getting out of bed, like all actions, takes mental and physical energy. Depression saps the amount of energy you have to complete tasks. This is represented by a common metaphor called “spoon theory,” where energy for tasks is represented by spoons and each task you do “costs” a certain number of spoons to complete. With depression, the amount of spoons you have to spend on tasks is already low. Getting out of bed may also be a task that requires a lot of spoons for you, especially if you know you have to do more tasks once you’re up. On bad days, you may start with even fewer spoons than normal, making getting up seem even less appealing.
How to get out of bed when depressed
If you haven’t already started getting professional help for your depression, that’s an excellent place to start. Make an appointment with a therapist, psychiatry specialist, or counselor to start discussing treatment plans for your depression. A mental healthcare professional can help you reduce risk factors, recommend support groups that can help, or help you create a mental health treatment plan for coping. A psychiatrist may recommend antidepressants, if they think it’s necessary, which can also help.
On your own, there are plenty of ways to help yourself. Create a set night and morning routine, so you get in the rhythm of going to bed and getting up at the same time. You might want to do some experiments on your own to find out how much sleep leaves you feeling the most rested. The CDC recommends 7+ hours of sleep a night for adults, but each person is different with how much sleep is enough for them.
Natural light is an amazing way to keep your circadian rhythm in balance. If it’s possible to have natural light in your bedroom, it’s recommended to keep your internal clock in rhythm. Getting exposed to natural light throughout the day also helps your body stay awake in the daytime and sleep at night.
If you struggle with seasonal affective disorder, bright light therapy can also help during the darker months. You might want to consider getting a light box to boost Vitamin D and keep your body’s internal clock in check.
Having a steady morning routine can also help you get up, since it’s easier to do things once you form habits. If possible, put something to look forward to in your morning routine, like drinking a cup of coffee, listening to music or a podcast, or reading a funny webcomic.
It’s also important to go to bed at a reasonable, consistent time. Regular exercise can help you get ready for sleep on time. Practicing proper sleep hygiene (cutting back on alcohol and caffeine, reduced browsing social media before bed, etc) can also help to improve sleep.
Coping with the rest of your day
If getting out of bed takes a lot of your energy, the rest of your day may seem daunting. That’s why it’s important to scatter self-care breaks throughout your day, so you can recharge a little. Little things to lighten your load can be massively helpful to making your day less of a struggle. If you can afford to order something healthy to eat instead of cooking on a day when you have a lot of chores, that can help. You might decide to take a walk after dinner, listen to uplifting music you like during your lunch break, start your day with some exercise, or call a loved one instead of isolating. There are plenty of ways to stretch your coping to last through the day.