Depression and Insomnia: One Causes the Other

Last updated: January 2023

I have gone back and forth over cause and effect. Does depression cause insomnia or does insomnia cause depression? My answer is both. This is my personal experience of how my depression and insomnia cause each other.

I have had bouts of depression for decades. My official diagnosis is bipolar disorder type 1, and I tend to have more depressive episodes than manic now. Depression has caused both insomnia and sleeping more than usual. My current issue is that insomnia is causing depression to find its way into what has been a lovely spell of getting enough sleep.

Insomnia is causing my depression to sink in

After spending a couple of glorious months actually sleeping through the night and waking at what I consider a normal time, my routine is disappearing. The familiar tossing and turning have crept in and I am awake later and later at night, waking several times after falling asleep.

The trouble with getting less sleep at night is that it’s harder to get out of bed in the morning. I find myself lying awake for more than an hour before I can manage to force myself out of bed. My mornings are slipping away and I fear I will return to a routine that leaves me little time to be productive.

Depression fuels my insomnia

Depression is not the cause of this bout of insomnia. Insomnia is starting to trigger depression. I was happy to have a more normal routine and get enough sleep to function well. Life was good. Now that insomnia is rearing its ugly head, I am feeling defeated. Depression is fueling my insomnia and keeping me awake.

I had spent several years dragging through the days after getting very little sleep. I spent most of the day and night in bed trying to get enough sleep to get through the day. Enjoying sleep and being able to hop right out of bed in the morning was new to me, and it was bliss. Now that it’s disappearing, depression is creeping in and it will only make my insomnia worse.

Sleep changes are making me feel defeated

Dealing with mental health issues and battling insomnia feels like a no-win situation. When 1 appears, the other is sure to follow. Admittedly, depression usually leads the way for me. This is not normal for me. Instead of depression causing sleep disturbances, my insomnia is causing depression.

Being able to get up at a normal time meant feeling more normal. It meant I was able to get things done and actually have waking time during normal business hours. This might sound odd to some, but my old schedule meant having an appointment during regular business hours meant waking up in the middle of what served as my night to keep it.

Insomnia causes depression and depression causes insomnia

Thanks to a more normal sleep schedule, I was able to take a much-needed vacation and actually enjoy it. I was able to sleep well and get up at a decent time in the morning without feeling like I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I was able to have full days to enjoy and see new places and do new things. It was nice.

Now I feel like that’s all slipping away and there is nothing I can do about it. That realization is causing depression to sink in and there is nothing I can do about that, either. Insomnia sucks. Depression sucks. Having insomnia and depression double sucks.

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