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The Link Between Sleep and Depression

January 19th, 2017

If you’ve spent countless days tossing and turning and feel like there’s no end in sight for your sleeplessness, you might be dealing with insomnia that’s tied to depression. The truth is that the majority of people dealing with depression report also dealing with insomnia.

Problems falling asleep and staying asleep originate from a variety of different causes, but one of the most prevalent is the presence of depression or anxiety. In this article, we’ll define insomnia and how it impacts us all differently, and how sleep deprivation and depression is often intertwined.

What is Insomnia?

The National Sleep Foundation defines insomnia as “difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when a person has the chance to do so.” Insomnia is further classified into primary and secondary types, which helps speak to the causes of the disorder.

Secondary insomnia is caused by an underlying health condition, such as depression, arthritis, asthma, headache disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, or stroke. On the other hand, primary insomnia causes are often harder to pin down. Common causes include major life changes, long-lasting stress or emotional upset, and stress at work, but every insomnia case is different.

How is Insomnia Related to Depression?

Insomnia and depression have a complicated relationship. Every case of insomnia linked with depression varies, because sometimes insomnia comes first and then causes depression, and other times depression is first present which causes insomnia. What research does tell us is that those who suffer from insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared to those who sleep well. To really understand your specific instance of insomnia and depression, it’s important to take safe and proactive steps to solving the issue.

How to Treat Insomnia Related Depression

If you think you may be suffering from insomnia, and your symptoms last for longer than one month, you may need to consult a medical doctor or a sleep center for help with your chronic insomnia. Depending on the onset of your depression, your physician may likely treat your depression alongside your insomnia. Several techniques are available to help you conquer your sleeplessness. Your doctor may recommend cognitive behavior therapy or sleep hygiene training. They may also provide you with techniques for relaxation therapy. If those options don’t work, they may prescribe medical and hormone therapy, prescription sleep aids or over-the-counter remedies.

Treating chronic insomnia related to depression can take time and effort. However, with proper diligence (and perhaps the help of a sleep professional), the symptoms of insomnia can be significantly reduced so that you can enjoy life to its fullest.

“Studies Find Insomnia May Precede and Maintain Depression”. American Psychological Association.
“Depression and Sleep”. National Sleep Foundation.
“What Is Insomnia?”. National Sleep Foundation.
“What Causes Insomnia?” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
“Epidemiology of Insomnia, Depression, and Anxiety”. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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