Hypersomnia Versus Mood and Anxiety Disorders
Hypersomnia is often confused with mood or anxiety disorders. Have you ever been really tired during the day and had no idea why? Maybe you got eight hours of sleep, but woke up still feeling groggy. Perhaps you have slept several hours or days at a time. If you have a mood disorder, it can be easy to blame anxiety or depression on daytime tiredness. But you could also have a sleep disorder called hypersomnia. To learn about hypersomnia and how it could affect your mental health, read this article.
What Is Hypersomnia?
According to an article from the Sleep Foundation Website, idiopathic hypersomnia (IH) is defined as excessive daytime sleepiness without any known cause.1 No matter how much sleep a person with IH gets, he or she does not wake up feeling refreshed. A person with IH can either sleep for long periods of time or take frequent naps throughout the day. Sometimes he or she does both.
Why Hypersomnia Can be Confused for a Mood Disorder
Because hypersomnia is not a very well-known condition, it can be easy to assume that sleepiness is caused by depression ("Depression and Sleep Disorders"). However, not everyone with depression sleeps as much as people with hypersomnia do. There is a type of Hypersomnia called Recurrent Hypersomnia (or Kleine-Levin Syndrome). In this type of sleep disorder, patients can be asleep, but appear to be awake and exhibit abnormal behavior changes.
According to Professor Tom Solomon of Univerty of Liverpool, "Many of the features: depression, altered sleeping patterns, increased eating - many of them are given psychiatric diagnoses first. It's thought that [the patient has] a psychiatric illness." 2 Alanna Wong, who has Kleine-Levin Syndrome, was misdiagnosed with having schizophrenia. A brain scan showed that she did not have a psychiatric disorder; she had a neurological disorder.
My Experience with Hypersomnia
Until about four years ago, I had no idea that Hypersomnia existed. Before my diagnosis, I just thought that I had trouble falling and staying asleep. Some of my loved ones thought this was just because I slept too much during the day. When I addressed my issues to my psychiatrist, she thought it was due to my anxiety ("Treating Anxiety-Related Sleep Disorders"). Even after I was prescribed several different antianxiety medications, I saw no improvement in my sleep. After a sleep study was conducted, I was diagnosed with organic (idiopathic) hypersomnia. With this type of hypersomnia, my REM (dreaming) sleep was very short.
Thankfully, my sypmtoms of hypersomnia are not nearly as bad as they were when I was first diagnosed. Although I still need to take naps during the day, they are much shorter and I can accomplish important tasks most days. To further reduce my syptoms, I try to do the following
- Get eight hours of sleep at night
- Wake up early
- Take medication
- Stay hydrated
- Schedule activities to stay busy during the day
- Record my levels of tiredness throughout the day
What to Remember if Your Loved One Has Hypersomnia
Because there is not much information about hypersomnia, it can be easy to assume that your loved one simply sleeps too much. It can be easy to assume that he or she is just lazy or needs to sleep more at night. But it is important to remember that hypersomnia is a real disorder. Those who have it cannot control how much they sleep. If you are a supporter of a loved one with hypersomnia, please try to be patient. Know that your loved one is doing the best that he or she can do. If they sleep for long periods of time, it is not your fault or theirs. It is simply the condition.
1. Hypersomnia Foundation Website, "Idiopathoc Hypersomnia (IH) is a Chronic Neurological Sleep Disorder" Accessed April 7, 2019.
2. Wong, Alanna. "Klein Levin Syndrome -- Rare Neurological Disorder" YouTube. January 8, 2010.
Lueck, M. (2019, April 5). Hypersomnia Versus Mood and Anxiety Disorders, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/toughtimes/2019/4/hypersomnia-versus-mood-and-anxiety-disorders