Sleepwalking involves walking or performing other tasks, such as eating or dressing up, while still asleep. It is a common condition, and most people may not require treatment. However, sometimes it might be a sign of an underlying mental health condition, like depression. In this article, we will explore the relationship between sleepwalking and depression.

Understanding Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is a sleep disturbance where an individual walks or does other activities in sleep as if they were actually awake. Most instances of sleepwalking occur within the first few hours of sleep, and a person who sleepwalks usually has no memories of doing so. Sleepwalking generally occurs in the non-REM phase of the sleep cycle. This stage of sleep is crucial for physical restoration and is less associated with emotional processing compared to REM sleep, which is commonly associated with dreaming. However, disturbances in sleep patterns, including sleepwalking episodes, can impact overall sleep quality and contribute to mood disturbances.

Some symptoms of sleepwalking are:

  • Talking while asleep
  • Having a blank or confused expression on one’s face while sleepwalking
  • Having no memory of the sleepwalking
  • It’s hard to wake up during a sleepwalking episode

Understanding Depression

Depression is a complex mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities. It may also cause sleep disturbances such as a lack of sleep (insomnia) excessive sleepiness (hypersomnia), fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of death or suicide. Depression can hurt a person’s overall well-being and quality of life.

How Are Sleepwalking And Depression Linked?

As mentioned earlier, sleepwalking isn’t a direct symptom of depression. However, sleepwalking and depression do share a few connections. They are:

  • Sleep Disturbances

Both sleepwalking and depression can cause disturbances in sleep patterns. While depression can cause insomnia and hypersomnia, sleepwalking generally occurs during specific stages of sleep and can disrupt the normal sleep cycle. Thus, sleepwalking may not be a symptom of depression, but it can be an indicator of underlying sleep disturbances, which are common symptoms of depression. Furthermore, research also indicates that people with depression or OCD are at an increased risk of sleepwalking, indicating a link between the two

  • Stress And Anxiety

Research also suggests that stress and anxiety can increase the risk of sleepwalking among people. Chronic stress and anxiety can contribute to symptoms of depression. Thus, sleepwalking could be a sign of underlying stress, which could contribute to depression in the long run.

  • Substance Use

Sudden usage of alcohol or an increase in consumption of alcohol can be a sign of underlying feelings of depression. Excessive use of alcohol has been linked with sleepwalking as well.

Other Symptoms Of Depression

Since Depression is a complex condition, it is important to understand that it can manifest in many forms, Thus, sleepwalking may not be the only indicator of depression and we must consider other symptoms before concluding. Other symptoms of depression are

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Persistent negative thoughts or rumination

Other Causes Of Sleepwalking

Like depression, sleepwalking is a complex condition as well. Thus, it may have many underlying causes apart from depression, such as:

  • Constant travel and changing sleep schedules
  • Side-effects of medications
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Genetics, sleepwalking tends to run in families
  • Fever and illness


While sleepwalking isn’t a direct symptom of depression, it can be an indicator of other overlapping issues such as sleep disturbances, underlying stress and anxiety, etc, It’s also important to note that not everyone who experiences sleepwalking will have depression, and vice versa. Each person’s experience is unique, and multiple factors contribute to the development of these conditions. Thus, it is advisable to consult a mental health professional if sleepwalking has been causing a significant disruption in your everyday life. 


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Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin