Insomnia (known in mental health terms as insomnia disorder) is a sleep-wake disorder characterized by…
Treating Insomnia Shown to Relieve Depression
Fifteen percent of people with depression want to sleep all the time. They feel immobile, almost incapable of stepping out of bed in the morning. Yet, 80 percent of those diagnosed with depression have the opposite problem. They suffer from insomnia.
Most studies have identified insomnia as a symptom of depression, but new research reveals that sometimes insomnia can cause depression. Both illnesses interact with each other in harmful ways. Treating insomnia early may prevent depression, while treating depression may halt insomnia. Left untreated, the two illnesses may keep increasing as each pushes the other into greater illness.
Both a Symptom and Cause of Depression
Insomnia can be both a symptom and a cause of depression, according to recent studies. Michael L. Perlis, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania, says that doctors once thought that if a person were treated for depression, he or she would be able to enjoy a night’s rest again. Yet, even after people were treated for depression, insomnia was sometimes capable of pulling them back into depression.
People who frequently suffer insomnia are three times as likely to develop depression as those who can get a good night’s sleep. Multiple restless nights can raise anxiety levels so high that a person has a higher potential to fall into depression. Stanford University research psychologist Tracy Kuo, PhD, believes that this is one way that insomnia can produce depression. A feeling of hopelessness and anxiousness grows with each sleepless night and can cause more damage than baggy eyes and low productivity.
Treating Insomnia Relieves Depression
A few studies show that when insomnia is treated, the symptoms of depression decrease. Treating insomnia can also help prevent relapses. One study only treated the patients for their insomnia, yet their depression symptoms decreased. In a study of 56 people, psychotherapy for sleeplessness helped ease depression symptoms in half of the participants.
Treating both insomnia and depression simultaneously proved successful in a different study with 545 patients. The patients who were given a sleep medication as well as an antidepressant had much greater relief from their depression than those who were given only antidepressants.
Getting Some Sleep
Improving sleep can help ease depression symptoms. Patients can get help relieving their insomnia with either medication or cognitive behavioral therapies. Each method has its own ups and downs and each individual can choose what they believe is the best for them.
Sleep medication takes affect quickly, yet the insomnia often returns after a person has gone off medication. Cognitive behavioral therapies take generally 8 to 12 weeks to take effect, yet these effects more often are long-lasting. One major advantage of cognitive behavioral therapies is that the patient is taught strategies to help them cope throughout their whole life. They are empowered to try and control their insomnia without relying on medication.