Sad and Confused
February 10, 2012 10:27 PM   Subscribe

During the night, I am sad. All other times, I am perfectly fine. ?!?!

In the mornings, I am perfectly fine. I can go through all range of emotions, from joy to anger to even stupid, or sad.
However at night, my emotion swings terribly and stays sad until I sleep.

Is it common for people to experience feelings of depression when it is nighttime? Is it less common for people to experience these feelings every night to the point where one must cry tears or drink themselves to sleep (which is unhealthy due to my tolerance for the stuff and my main reason for wanting to stop this behavior. Currently dealing with the alcohol by removing all alcohol in my house.)

If it is a common phenomena, then why does it occur? How does my environment (either inner or outer) affect this?

And finally, solutions or treatments, other than the obvious "Go see an expert for this". I find it very hard to share this problem with people I know, since I feel unaffected during the day, however when night comes I feel like utter sh*t and am more open to expressing my feelings to those who would listen (which is growing smaller due to the sh*t my close friends have to deal with, another reason why I want to stop this behavior).

A lot of the feelings of "down-ness" end up in me feeling confused about myself, leading me to post online for answers. I plan on seeing an expert (need your help on deciding on who to see, psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, etc.) and telling them of my problem. What sucks is that I always have a hard time explaining this face-to-face as well. But I'm going to have to try and trudge through it.
posted by Angel of Khaos to Human Relations (20 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Seasonal affective disorder, maybe? How long has this been going on? Do you feel worse during some nights (say, Sunday, or earlier in the week) compared to others? I used to feel really glum on Sunday nights, and I suspect that's a holdover from when I was in still in school and dreading the coming week, although that's over with nowadays.
posted by un petit cadeau at 10:33 PM on February 10, 2012

I assumed it was SAD (but I can't self-diagnose), but I've felt this way for a long time. There are some nights where I can fake my way through it though (such as a friend's birthday). I know it's been for at least a few months.
And I feel worse on no particular days, them being quite random. Maybe it's what I experienced that day that determines the level of sadness that night, or a trigger of some sort. I do remember that I broke down in the middle of the day when someone reminded me of my most traumatic relationship breakup.
posted by Angel of Khaos at 10:40 PM on February 10, 2012

If this has only been going on for a couple of months and you experienced a traumatic relationship breakdown at some point before this, I would imagine that that would go some way to explain it. If you're currently single that would exacerbate it. Nighttime when you're without a partner, or even if you're with someone but have had a particularly traumatic breakup, can be the worst time of the day.
posted by mleigh at 10:59 PM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure you should have best answered anything just yet.

- You could have a mild thyroid condition.

- You could be experiencing a vitamin deficiency, especially if alcohol has been a factor because that is VERY depleting.

- You might have some sort of blood sugar issues - pre-diabetic or hypoglycemia or whatever.

- You could be experiencing some kind of post-trauma or processing of recent sad events, this types of things have to come out sooner or later, maybe for you past emotional issues are manifesting at night because there are less outside distractions?

- Or some combination of all the above. Or something else entirely.



- Start taking a good multi-vitamin + extra vitamin C and vitamin D. And an iron supplement. Low iron can also cause anxiety and depression (ask me how I know!)

- Go see a GP for a blood work-up, even though most GP's are pretty crap at spotting mild thyroid issues. They might spot other deficiencies that could be contributing to this.

- L-Glutimate powder. Get some and take it.

IANAD, and all that, but it definitely helps with stabilizing blood sugars, cravings for alcohol, and it might really really help you. Google this to get correct doses. Some info on that here and here. If you have kidney or liver problems, or epilepsy, don't take this!

- Get regular massage, start a yoga practice, go to the gym in the evenings, or start hiking, etc. etc. All of these things have proven therapeutic benefit.

- Download a good meditation app, especially if it has binaural beats included - GREAT for falling asleep happily.

- See a good acupuncturist and tell them the whole story, preferable someone who works with herbs, too. This is a great way to handle weirdo symptoms that western medicine does a crap job of treating. I'm not an expert, but I KNOW that there is likely a Traditional Chinese Medicine protocol for your exact condition, because TCM is just brilliant for this type of thing.

- My last resort recommendation here is to start therapy. I truly suspect you have something primarily physical going on. I think the SAD diagnosis is kinda a catch-all, IMHO, but if you can identify the deficiency causing the SAD and address it directly, you'll experience a much better long-term result.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 11:28 PM on February 10, 2012 [8 favorites]

Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder? I am not a doctor and if I were you I would want to rule out everything else first, but it doesn't sound too far off the mark.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:38 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd go with a therapist. You even said that you're having issues of guilt, talking to your closest friends. Well that's what a therapist is for, right?
posted by oceanjesse at 11:50 PM on February 10, 2012

In the morning it's easier to feel hopeful that today will be different, that you're going to do something good, that you have so many choices, that you have all day! At night you know that it's too late to do many of those things today, if you haven't already. I think nights like that might be easier for you if you use the time to plan something for tomorrow.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 12:14 AM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I get down when I am tired, hungry, or have other physical issues. When I'm really tired, I can feel miserable to the point of tears or ridiculous irrational anger, and even though I know it intellectually, it's almost impossible to convince myself that it is really just physical.

Are you getting enough sleep? Good quality sleep? As well as other people's suggestions above, I'd try moving your bedtime earlier for a while, and doing anything you can to improve sleep quality. (Cutting out alcohol might actually help with that, since drunk sleep tends to be kind of restless.)
posted by lollusc at 12:28 AM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

there is something called sundowner's syndrome that often accompanies dementia, but can also be a part of depression. Maybe reading up on that will shed some light
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:13 AM on February 11, 2012

I think this is very common. During the day you have work,chores, and other people to occupy your thougts. At night you are alone, with nothing to occupy you.

It is common enough that we have commom phrases "keeping you up at night" or "laying in bed at night" or "tossing and turning" to describe this.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:23 AM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

also "how do you sleep at night?" for bad guys.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:24 AM on February 11, 2012

Yes, having negative feelings and difficulty sleeping at night in response to (specific or non-specific stress) is a proverbial part of the human condition. You have nothing else to think about, so you dwell on the negative things. I've had this at different times, and the ways I've dealt with it are:

1) If I get rid of the stress, I generally start sleeping again. (Hard if the stress is non-specific.)

2) A sleep aid from my doctor so that I can sleep instead of lying awake and being unhappy. Often two or three days of sleeping when I'm supposed to will put me back on schedule. Often a lack of sleep is part of what's contributing!

3) Staying up most of the night watching TV/surfing the internet/distracting my mind, then going to bed right about dawn and sleeping until noon. It works ... if you don't have, like, things to do during the day. I think it perpetuates the miserableness, though.

If I were you, I would go to my GP first and start with, "I'm having a lot of trouble sleeping because I'm feeling miserable after dark; I'm not totally sure why, but I'm exhausted." Let your GP help you with the sleep problem and help you decide if you should see a therapist, or get some tests done, or what.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:58 AM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

What's your caffeine intake like? Crashing could make you feel exhausted and miserable.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:12 AM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm trying to remember a specific quotation Ruth Rendell gave in an interview: something to the effect of "We are all mad at night." It may have been from Mark Twain. It referred to that awful hour of the wolf feeling after midnight and it really hit home for me. When I go to sleep and then wake up after midnight, my own thoughts are sometimes truly horrible. I don't think they are all false, but the direness is; it's way out of proportion. I usually just write down what I'm thinking and promise myself to address it in the morning, and then basically dismiss it for the time being. Sort of like when you are dreaming and have a nightmare and feel much better when you realize you are dreaming.

It sounds like with you it's a problem of getting to sleep more than waking up again but I think in either case, eliminating alcohol is a very good idea. Alcohol has a horrible rebound effect and can actually create mood swings.
posted by BibiRose at 9:53 AM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

My caffeine intake is virtually non-existent; I don't drink coffee nor soda often, and if I do, it's minimal.
My sleep schedule is fine, I normally don't have much things to do early morning so I can spend my time venting on the internet until I feel tired enough to go to sleep and wake up the next day around noon.

The general answer seems to be that it's caused by the lack of distractions at night and/or a lack of something. I have no idea how to solve this, but I will try.

I don't believe this is a physical problem, since my recent blood test came out pretty fine.

I know one thing for sure: I will either cut down on alcohol or just stop drinking it. Though alcoholism runs through my family, I still think I'm pretty strong-minded to get through it.

Thank you for the answers.
posted by Angel of Khaos at 2:51 PM on February 11, 2012

Why not try a light box? They're not expensive or inconvenient to use.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:46 PM on February 11, 2012

This sort of swinging is worse for me when I'm using alcohol, and not exercising or socializing enough.
posted by ead at 7:14 PM on February 11, 2012

Thinking about this more- first, I think you've explained what you're feeling very cogently here, and I think any doctor you speak to will understand what you're trying to say. "My mood is usually good during the day, and if it isn't I can manage the ups and downs, but at night I feel so sad I often cry, can't sleep, and use alcohol as a sleep aid. What could be causing this?" Totally reasonable and normal thing to ask your doctor.

Second, is it possible you are still under the influence of alcohol when you wake up the next day? If you are consuming enough alcohol, you might be waking up still in that happy buzzed state. Your mood might deteriorate because you are sobering up. I would personally hate to go through whatever precedes a hangover while I was awake.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 8:02 PM on February 11, 2012

I have a similar problem, and the only thing that works for me is to listen to podcasts or audiobooks as I fall asleep. My personal choice is the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast, which is intellectually engaging but doesn't hook me emotionally to the point That I want to keep listening rather than drift off. I find that filling my head with someone else's words is a great way to drive out the existential angst that would otherwise creep in.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:20 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you're staying up pretty late at night if you're sleeping until noon. In the past, I've done this and it's definitely contributed to my depression; I don't have any idea why, but there's just something about being up late that seems to lead to dark thoughts and hopelessness. If I were you, I would try to get up earlier so that you'd be more tired and (hopefully) able to go to sleep earlier. And if you do have SAD, you definitely need as much daytime light as you can get and morning light is supposed to be especially powerful in keeping depression at bay; I have a light therapy box for SAD and the instructions say to use it in the morning (I do and it helps, BTW).
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 11:12 PM on February 11, 2012

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