A new research which will be conducted at the Monash University’s School of Psychology and Psychiatry, may offer new hope for people suffering from insomnia and depression.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder, more exactly it represents the inability of an individual to sleep. Often insomnia is a symptom of a mood disorder, such as depression. Insomnia may be primary, when there is no cause that can be identified or it can be determined by somatic causes, specific behaviors (copious meals, hectic lifestyle, physical inactivity), or excessive consumption of certain substances (tobacco, coffee).
If the average normal sleep is 7-8 hours in healthy adults, people with insomnia wake up after a short period after falling asleep or even fail to sleep all night. This sleep deprivation is detrimental to the body, the individual is exhausted and exposed to a higher risk of certain diseases. There is a strong link between depressive disorders and insomnia (the latter precedes depression). Thus, if insomnia is treated, depression can be prevented.
Dr. Damon Ashworth, who leads the study, pointed out that insomnia actually causes the depressive episode. Although depression is treated with antidepressants or using other spcific methods, the insomnia may still affect the patient. In other words, when sleep disorder continues to affect the patient, the patients will be at risk of relapsing.
The current study, conducted by a collaboration between Monash University, Monash Medical Centre and the Melbourne Sleep Disorder Centre, enrolls patients who followed treatments with antidepressants but had no significant improvement. The aim is to show whether treating insomnia helps treating depression.
Connection Between Insomnia and Depression
You know 80% of depressed people experience insomnia, which means they have to face sleeping problems. Another type of insomnia is waking up early in the morning. This is in15% depressed people.
Insomnia is not just the depression symptoms, even disordered sleep may lead to depression. Delay in treating insomnia lead to first episode of depression. Insomnia depression is not just less sleep or waking up in the early morning. Actually sleep has well defined pattern. We cycle 4 to 5 times a night through a relaxed sleep marked by slow waves. People who are in depression fall in REM sleep, means that in sleep, people are in lot of pressures. People can get depressed in dream also.
When people experience insomnia, they get frustrated and full of anxiety. To compensate with sleep, they take some behavioral step. They stay in bed after morning for a long time or go to the bed early in the next night. But this behavior changes the pattern of sleep.
It is a well known fact that depression and insomnia are interconnected . Previous studies have shown that simultaneous treatment of depression and sleep disorders is effective. However, these findings have not clearly shown which treatment was effective. Dr. Damon Ashworth T, underlined that this particular study is trying to identify more accurately the link between depression and insomnia. Furthermore, the scientists intend to develop a new approach in order to treat patients that suffer from insomnia.
Can Insomnia Trigger Depression?
It’s easy to understand how insomnia might be linked to depression. “Chronic sleep loss can lead to a loss of pleasure in life, one of the hallmarks of depression,” explains Stanford University research psychologist Tracy Kuo, PhD. “When people can’t sleep, they often become anxious about not sleeping. Anxiety increases the potential for becoming depressed.”
But the relationship is far more than simply cause and effect. When depressed people suffer from insomnia, their risk of recurring depression is greater than that of patients who don’t have insomnia. “So insomnia may serve as a trigger for depression,” Perlis says. “But it also appears to perpetuate depression.”
During the study, patients will be monitored during sleep and undertake fifty-minute sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or sleep education for insomnia (CBT-I). Cognitive Behavioral therapy for insomnia is a method of treatment without using any medication. Pharmacological therapy for treating insomnia may include over-the-counter sleep medications (antihistamines), antidepressants with sedative effects, benzodiazepines, and new drugs, such as non-benzodiazepines (zaleplon, zolpidem). Even if in some cases, medication therapy is effective, there are many side effects that can occur including dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, headache, constipation or diarrhea.
Linking Insomnia and Depression
Here are just some of the theories about how insomnia and depression may interact:
Insomnia may decrease a person’s quality of life and lead to depression.
Lying awake at night may make depressive thoughts worse and trigger depression.
Insomnia may change brain chemicals in a way that triggers depression.
Insomnia may be an early warning symptom of a change in body rhythms that may lead to depression.
Types of insomnia a depressed person may experience include:
Trouble falling asleep
Trouble staying asleep
Waking up tired
Waking up early in the morning
BY ALEXANDRA VELCELEAN
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