The Effects of Working the Night Shift on Depression


A variety of industries employ workers during the night shift, which requires employees to adjust to an entirely new schedule. Unfortunately, working the night shift can have a significant effect on the prevalence and severity of depression.

Office building at night.
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A night shift worker essentially reverses their circadian cycle, aiming to sleep during the daytime hours and work during the nighttime hours. According to MSNBC, this causes a variety of metabolic and hormonal problems, including heart disease, diabetes and depression.

Sleeping during the day reverses your natural circadian rhythm.
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Sunlight helps to regulate blood flow to the brain, along with levels of serotonin and melatonin in the body. Night shift workers commonly do not experience much sunlight, which often results in unbalanced levels of these hormones, resulting in depression, anxiety, and loss of energy.

A lack of sunlight can lead to depression and anxiety.
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An article in the August 2007 issue of the SLEEP journal noted that people who work the night shift have significantly lower levels of the chemical serotonin. Low amounts of serotonin greatly increase the risk of depression.

Night shift workers often have low levels of serotonin.
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As they adjust into their new schedules, workers on the night shift commonly experience bouts of insomnia or difficulty sleeping. Unfortunately, frequent insomnia is a precursor for depression; the workers feel as though they will never adjust to the new schedule and feel exhausted during most of their waking hours.

Insomnia is common among night shift workers.
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Working the night shift commonly causes the employee to miss family functions and social activities. This lack of socialization and quality family time can result in feelings of guilt, loneliness and depression.

Working at night makes it harder to socialize.
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